Legislature considers changes to Net Metering

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The Montana Legislature’s Energy & Telecommunications Interim Committee (ETIC) is about to wrap up a 16-month study of Montana’s net metering law. Net metering has already driven millions of dollars of private investment in rooftop solar arrays and small scale wind turbines by giving Montana homeowners and businesses the option to generate their own energy, and the assurance that they’ll receive full, fair credit for extra energy they provide to their utility.

As the study finishes up, ETIC is considering a package of draft legislation that includes a bill to increase the 50 kilowatt net metering system cap to 250 kilowatts for universities, National Guard facilities, local governments, churches and other tax exempt properties. Another bill would trigger a detailed cost/benefit analysis of net metering when output from net metering systems reaches 1% of a utility’s sales. (Production from net metering systems in NorthWestern Energy service territory currently sits at about 0.1 to 0.2% of NorthWestern’s sales.) The draft legislation would also grandfather existing net metering customers under any future changes to the rate structure.

Please take a few minutes to send an email to ETIC showing your support for these key pieces of the draft legislation:

  • Raise the net metering cap to 250 kilowatts for schools, local governments, and other tax exempt properties
  • Create a clear path forward for net metering by triggering a thorough cost/benefit analysis when production from net metering systems hits 1% of utility sales.
  • Protect the investment of existing solar customers by grandfathering them under any future changes to the net metering rate structure.

The draft bills are a modest yet constructive step forward. While they don’t reflect the full scope of net metering reforms MREA has advocated for, they would help create much needed regulatory certainty for Montana’s growing solar industry, give solar consumers assurance that their investment is secure, and open up new opportunities for energy savings at our military bases, schools, and local governments.

Bipartisan majorities have already given these bills a preliminary endorsement. We need your help to build on that momentum. Please take action by sending an email to ETIC with your views on the draft net metering legislation.

If you’d like to take a closer look, you can review each of the draft net metering bills (LCNET1-LCNET5) here, or give Ben a call at (406) 465-8920 with questions. To comment on the bills, send an email to legresponse@mt.gov by August 25.