Beyond the Texas power outages and blackouts lies a largely unseen dynamic between fossil fuel companies and so-called “clean energy” interests.
One dispute in Montana sheds light on the competitive relationship and how it can cost customers money.
In 2017, Montana’s utility regulator, the Public Service Commission (PSC), made a controversial decision that benefited utility monopoly NorthWestern Energy.
“They made a rule or decision that disadvantaged, really grossly disadvantaged, these solar energy developers,” says Anne Hedges, who’s with the nonprofit Montana Environmental Information Center.
Hedges says the PSC drastically reduced the amount of money NorthWestern Energy would have to pay solar companies for their power. (Purchases of renewable energy are required under a 1970s federal law). Her group sued the PSC and eventually won in court. The Montana Supreme Court threw out the PSC’s directive on what solar companies would have to be paid, and upped that amount to 144% more than recommended.
Roger Koopman was on the Montana PSC that voted to slash the rates for solar energy. He says the PSC was just doing what’s right for customers and now— customers will have to pay more for energy because of the court’s decision.
“[Green energy advocates] believe that there should be a premium price for renewables, that the renewables should get something extra,” says Koopman. “But I also think there's a general attitude that ‘fine, renewable energy is great, go for it, but don't make me pay more for it. It should reflect the market cost of energy, no more, no less’.”
Hedges says similar energy conflicts are coming up in numerous states with no single answer on how the disputes will come out.
Meantime, according to energy experts, due to various issues, there is trouble not the horizon elsewhere: Increasingly, there may not be enough electricity available during peak demand times in states including Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Wyoming and Montana.
Steven Lundgrin says
There are many unintended consequences to using renewable energy, besides consumers having to pay more for its use. What about the birds that are killed by the wind turbines? What else could be done with that land used for wind turbine farms? What happens when the wind doesn't blow, or the sun doesn't shine, or the wind turbines get iced over, as what happened in Texas?
Wind turbines are huge. What happens with the turbines and blades when they wear out? Do they go to a landfill? What about solar panels if they wear out or are destroyed by hail, tornadoes or some other natural disaster?
Not to mention the farm land lost to the solar panel farms! The green energy is not so green when you stand back and look at what it costs in land and how many trees and plants that are lost (our natural carbon sinks) to the massive acrage taken up by these monstrous windmill and solar farms. If you drive through northern Texas you get vertigo from all of the spinning windmill blades that go on for miles and miles!! Natural gas, hydro and nuclear are the most stable and reliable sources, but the liberal left just wants a way to steal money and control our lives!
Steven and Jg,
WEATHER Wars !
“ When we view extreme out of the ordinary events, such as the unprecedented weather in Texas, we have to look for conventional answers to explain the phenomenon. The explanations I am going to set forward, would have been considered extreme 10 years, 20 years ago. However, today, the technology to impose a weather war attack upon Texas is old news carried out with old technology. There are weathermen, fearing for their jobs, who are quietly saying that there was no way that the Texas ice storms were a natural event. This is akin to Hurricane Katrina moving at right angles.” :