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Solar Energy Advocates Ask Feds To Reverse Price Suspension

Solar Energy Advocates Ask Feds To Reverse Price Suspension
Solar Energy Advocates Ask Feds To Reverse Price Suspension

This week, Montana’s Environmental Information Center and solar energy advocates asked federal authorities to reverse a state regulator's decision earlier this year that advocates say is killing clean energy jobs.

In June, Montana’s Public Service commission took unprecedented action when they suspended the prices utilities are legally required to pay solar energy developers.

Northwestern Energy had asked the PSC to take emergency action and suspend the price rate.

Northwestern said the energy price was too high and out-of-date. The PSC agreed and suspended the rate, planning to replace it with an updated one this winter.

Montana Environmental Information Center’s Brian Fadie says the PSC violated federal law when it suspended the rate without creating a new rate.

“That process can take place, but they cannot put a stay on this rate until they go through this public legitimate process to set a new rate.”

Fadie says the suspension of rates has stopped solar development in Montana.

MEIC has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to step in and force Montana’s PSC to reinstate the old rate until a new rate is introduced.

When Northwestern Energy asked the PSC to suspend the rate, company representatives said the out-of-date energy prices could mean over $200 million in additional costs they’d have to pass onto their customers of the next 25 years.

FERC is giving interested parties until October 11 to submit additional comments.

There is no timeline for when federal regulators may rule on MEIC's request, but attorneys are expecting a ruling by the end of November.

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