At the listening session May 6 on the NorthWestern Energy rate case, Public Service Commissioner Tony O'Donnell clarified that the PSC does not make policy, but only sets the rates a regulated monopoly may charge its customers.

With its new rate case before the PSC, NWE is asking PSC to destroy net metered rooftop solar in Montana and to make policy. The Legislature created net metering to encourage the businesses and jobs it brings, to allow households and small businesses to lower their energy costs, and to give customers the freedom to choose renewable energy. NWE proposes to remove the economic incentives to install solar. Installers will be forced to lay off workers or close altogether. Homeowners would lose the choices they have now by legislative policy, and would be forced to buy energy only from NWE.

If the PSC allows NWE to wipe out the rooftop solar industry, it would be making de facto policy, undoing the work of the Legislature. No future Legislature could undo the years of lost jobs and businesses, lost energy savings and lost freedom of choice. Montana will be swirling in a backwater of wasteful centralized power distribution, while the world moves on.

Please contact the PSC at psc.mt.gov/contact-us/contact-commissioners. Tell them to stop NWE's attempt to circumvent the law, and leave the policymaking to the legislature. To learn more, come to “Stand Up for Solar” at 220 S. 27th St., at 6 p.m. on Tuesday, May 21, or contact sydney@northernplains.org.

Mary Fitzpatrick


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