NorthWestern Energy employee Lori St. Aubin repeats NWE’s questionable claim that “the current net metering rate doesn’t reflect [the] whole cost” of service provided by NWE to customers with rooftop solar (“Correcting net metering inequity” June 17). Many studies by experts, not hired by NWE, show current rates do indeed cover the cost of service – contrary to NWE’s repeated claims.

As a new owner of an installed rooftop solar system St. Aubin is “grandfathered” and will not pay the exorbitant “demand charge” that Montanans who install rooftop solar in the future would pay.

An “average” NWE customer, who installs solar panels producing half the electricity she uses, may be surprised that NWE gets most of the benefit from her investment. NWE’s proposed rate for rooftop solar customers pretends to provide net metering, but the punitive demand charge wipes out expected benefits of solar and net metering. Her NWE bill may be the same as if she donated the kilowatt-hours she exported to the NWE grid, and later she purchased them back for full price. This is not net metering, and not equitable.

NWE’s demand charge has nothing to do with rooftop solar or net metering. But non-solar residential customers will not pay this charge. The demand charge will not correct alleged inequities between customers – it will cause inequities for rooftop solar customers.

Ask the Public Service Commission to disapprove NWE’s rate proposal. (PSC_utilitycomment@mt.gov)

Susan W. Newell


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