A government official was caught on a hot mic stating that cuts he made to rates and contracts offered to solar energy projects are enough to kill future development. Utility company Northwestern Power asked Montana Public Service Commissioner Bob Lake for these cuts because due to historically low prices, too many third-party renewable-energy developers were installing solar.
“Just dropping the rate that much probably took care of the whole thing,” Rate Analyst Neil Templeton says in the video recording below.
Bob Late replies, “Well, the 10-year might do it if the price doesn’t. And at this low price, I can’t imagine anyone getting into it. So, it becomes a totally moot point because just dropping the rate that much probably took care of the whole thing.”
Billings Gazette reports:
At issue are the PSC’s actions last Thursday to reset the rates and contracts for qualifying renewable energy projects up to 3 megawatts in size. Each project is large enough to power several hundred homes. States are required to set a price and contract lengths to promote alternative energy resources under the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act, or PURPA, which has been on the books since the energy crisis of the 1970s.
Whether the new terms went too far came up during an accidentally recorded conversation between Lake and PSC Rate Analyst Neil Templeton, who pointed out that the new terms are unworkable for qualifying facilities, also known as “QFs.” The rates are too low, Templeton said, and the contract lengths, a minimum five years, possibly turning into 10 if new rates can be set midterm, are too short.
By federal law, this Public Service Commissioner (PSC) is required to promote renewable energy, not hinder it! Let us know your thoughts on Facebook and in the comments below.