Monday, February 25, 2013

Jobs & Alternative Energy: Support Senate Bill 247

Today, the Montana Senate will vote on SB 247, an important bill for expanding distributed renewable energy in Montana. Please take a moment to encourage your Senator to support SB 247. You can use this simple online message form to contact your Senator. You can look up your legislators here. Or leave a message by calling 444-4800.

Net metering allows people who set up their own renewable energy systems, like roof-mounted solar panels or small scale windmills, to sell the excess power back to the electric utility. Under current law, only systems that generate 50 kW or less are eligible for net metering. The cap was set at 50 kW when Montana Power was deregulated in 1999, which was consistent with other states at the time. Unfortunately, Montana hasn't kept pace with other states. We are now far below the national median of 660, and 41 other states have net metering caps of 100 kW or greater.. Senate Bill 247 would raise the cap for solar panels and other alternative energy systems from 50kw to 100 kw.

Net metering is an important incentive for distributed renewable energy. Distributed energy is increasingly shown to reduce negative impacts on the grid and help stem continued cost. According to Northwestern's own testimony against a similar bill, 2.5 cents of power costs 6 cents to transmit. An electron generated on site saves this transmission cost. With net metering, the electricity goes first to the customer producing it, then to neighbors if there is excess power. Less transmission means less line loss. These systems diversify our state’s energy supply and invest energy savings back in the state.

Please take a few moments to contact your Senator today.