Vote Solar, Earthjustice take Montana PURPA fight to federal regulators


Yesterday Vote Solar announced that it has petitioned the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to restore implementation in Montana of a 1978 federal law that requires utilities to purchase electricity from solar generation and other independent power producers.

In June the Montana State Public Service Commission suspended implementation of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) in the service area of Northwestern Energy, after the utility argued that the calculation of rates set to producers was too high.

At issue are 155 MW of solar projects from 100 kW to 3 MW in capacity that are planned, which Northwestern Energy says would put undue pressure on rates. The price paid for PURPA-compliant facilities in the utility’s service area is currently set at $0.067 per kilowatt-hour (kWh), well below average retail electricity rates in the Montana which are at $0.116/kWh…

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