Inside Energy: Solar power

Oct 2, 2014

Following a backlash from customers, a utility company that supplies power to parts of Wyoming, South Dakota and Montana has dropped a proposed rate increase on solar users. 

Inside Energy’s Leigh Paterson reports this move is part of a larger, nation-wide conflict between traditional utility companies and rooftop solar.

The Black Hills Power solar surcharge would have applied to customers in across the region.  And the South Dakota-based utility hasn't ruled out bringing it back in the future.   Deb Theriault (theory-awlt) of Casper-based Range Solar & Wind says this type of surcharge could be a real disincentive.

"Most people do install solar for cost savings.  There are people who want to save the planet  and do all of that too but most people want to reduce their costs.  So it is mostly distinctly a huge barrier to saving money."

Utilities in states like Arizona, Utah, and recently in Wisconsin have proposed similar solar surcharges.  Theriault says its a way for companies to meet their bottom line because the more customers generate their own renewable energy, the less electricity they need to buy.