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Government & Politics

Montana AG Opposes Federal Oversight Of Net Metering

Solar panels installed on a residential roof
jonsowman
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Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
Home solar panels

Renewable energy industry advocates and Montana’s Attorney General are among those pushing back on an East Coast group’s petition that could put an end to the state’ rooftop solar program for net-metering.

The New England Ratepayers Association sent the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a petition in April asking the agency to take control of electricity sale that’s right now under state net metering rules. Industry advocates in Montana say that’d stop the state from over seeing its current net metering program.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox signed a letter along with 30 other state attorneys general opposing the proposal, saying individual states have the right to regulate the program.

Net metering benefits customers with rooftop solar by taking extra energy from their panels, feeding it back into the electric grid, and compensating homeowners later in the form of credits on their utility bills.

The Montana Renewable Energy Association, which represents mostly small renewable businesses, joined around 450 other organizations around the country this week in putting its name to a letter protesting the requested change to net metering regulations.

MREA Executive Director Andrew Valainis says Montana’s rooftop solar industry is small in terms of number of customers and employees.

“All of a sudden, if they get a huge reduction in business, it’s gonna make it really really challenging from them. Really challenging for them. So yeah I think smaller markets are probably gonna be hit a little harder, or smaller businesses are. For sure, and that’s what Montana’s market is made up of," Valainis said.

June 15 marked the deadline for comment on the proposal to federal regulators to shift net metering under their oversight.