The Montana Public Service Commission made a big decision Thursday regarding solar energy rates. In a three to two vote, the Commission agreed with NorthWestern Energy’s emergency request to suspend the sixty-six dollar facility standard rate according to Public Information Officer for the Montana Public Service Commission Eric Sell.

"The consumers would be locked in at way too high a priced contract so the commission voted to suspend that rate while we calculated a new rate over the next six month," Sell said. "This only applies to projects of 100 KW to 3 MW so its not just a solar roof top or anything like that. This only applied to any new contracts that haven’t been signed yet"

The commission’s decision to suspend the rate wasn’t necessarily received well by developers.

"Its quite a bit of a reduction from the current rate and the debate here is between out of state corporate solar developers and the consumers of Montana," Sell said. "The reaction we’ve gotten from the solar community and the comments they’ve submitted to us is that they didn’t want the commission to take action. The commissions decision today sided with the consumers of Montana."


Projects that have not yet signed contracts with NorthWestern Energy will be able to negotiate a contract price. The suspension will remain in place until a new rate is established within the next six months.