UPDATE: SB 7 passed the legislature, but was vetoed by Governor Bullock.
Montanans deserve the freedom to make their own energy choices. We witnessed that with the outpouring of public support for the Solar Jobs and Energy Freedom Act. Across Montana, people from all walks of life agree that solar is the Montana way. Montanans are stepping forward and asking for solutions that will grow jobs, protect our rivers and lands, and create more energy options that reduce our reliance on giant corporate monopolies. Rather than embracing this vision, the Legislature has decided to forward policies that take us backward. We should be seizing the opportunity of new jobs through solar. Montana risks missing out on this economic opportunity should SB 7 become law.
SB 7 would discriminate against net-metered customers by saying they – and only they – may not benefit from a “subsidy.” This bill runs contrary to reality. The electric grid has always operated with many types of customers who cost more or less than others to serve and yet are charged the same rate. For example, rural and remote residential customers often live where grid infrastructure is expensive to build and maintain and only benefits a small number of customers, yet they pay the same rate as residential customers in dense urban areas who are cheaper to serve.
To target net metering customers in this way is discriminatory on its face and would take Montana’s solar industry backward.