Black Hills Power, a South Dakota based utility that serves 70,000 customers in South Dakota, Wyoming and Montana recently withdrew it’s proposed a rate change that targeted customers who generate their own alternative energy.
This is a battle that continues to be fought between utilities and solar customers who have transitioned away from dirty energy sources. As utilities lose customers to solar energy, the customer base that absorbs the utility’s fixed costs continue to shrink, so many utilities are pushing back in hopes of charging solar energy users additional fees to protect them from the disruption of solar energy.
In this case, Black Hills Power tried to sneak the fee into a request for a rate increase to address weather damage to the grid and deal with regulatory costs associated with their old coal-fired power plants. After considerable backlash, the company has pulled back the rate change for now.
Many utilities continue to stifle the proliferation of distributed energy sources such as solar, as they avoid the coming reality that their business model is going to have to change as the cost of solar continues to come down each year.