My wife and I recently had rooftop solar panels installed. To ensure that our annual electrical needs would always be met, we installed slightly more panel capacity than was needed. Because of our extra production, we essentially “give” NorthWestern Energy free electricity, since NWE does not pay rooftop solar generators for any extra power produced. So far, we have given 784 kilowatt hours or about $90 worth of electricity to NWE.

Prior to installing our panels, we had NWE conduct an “Energy Audit” to help us reduce our energy needs. They said the purpose of these audits was to reduce the electricity used by NWE’s customers so they could postpone the need to expand their electrical production. We used the audit findings and reduced our energy use.

Now here’s the irony. Even though rooftop solar producers help NWE reduce their need for additional electrical generation and often give them free electricity, NWE is asking the Public Service Commission for a significant charge for new rooftop solar installations. This charge is blatantly unfair and would essentially make adding new rooftop solar panels uneconomical. Why does NWE want to penalize people for helping them achieve a clean energy future? Maybe because it’s mainly money that matters when you are a monopoly. I urge the PSC to deny this unjustified charge for the sake of fairness, clean energy and the small, locally-owned solar business that provide good jobs in Montana.

Ken Knudson


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