Please email the Montana Public Service Commission. Tell them NorthWestern Energy's proposed charge is not “fair” (PSC_utilitycomment@mt.gov).
Sarah, an “average” NWE customer, uses 750 kilowatt-hours per month. She installs rooftop solar to produce 400 kWh per month. She will purchase 350 kilowatt-hours from NWE.
Sarah uses 150 kilowatt-hours while they are generated. They will not touch the NWE grid. The other 250 kilowatt-hours are exported temporarily to the grid for credit -- and later reclaimed when the family needs more than they are generating. This is net-metering.
Because of the punishing “demand charge” NWE proposes for net-metering customers, Sarah will pay $79 per month – more than the $75 paid by a customer without solar using 600 kilowatt-hours.
In effect Sarah pays full price for both the returned 250 kilowatt-hours she exported to the NWE grid, and the additional 350 kilowatt-hours she needs. She gets NO “credit” for the 250 kilowatt-hours she generated. She donates them to NWE. NWE sells these free kilowatt-hours for full price. This is not net-metering.
In a recent letter, NWE claims the charge is “fair.” It’s not. It is an effort to snuff out rooftop solar.