By M.S. Sacry for the Valley Journal
Green energy is the wave of the future, with more and more solar systems coming online every day.
But as new technologies have proliferated, policies haven’t always kept up, and lack of uniform energy policy across the country means that many solar power producers in Montana are losing banked energy they would be credited for elsewhere.
Rich Gebhardt installed a solar array in October 2018. The system is tied into the grid. It includes built-in safety measures including a special breaker.
“You have to be able to turn it off at any time,” Gebhardt said. “There are some extraordinary expenses that go into the array that Mission Valley Power requires.”
Gebhardt benefited from a process called net metering. Net metering allows people who generate more energy than used to receive a credit on their bill. In exchange, Gebhardt’s excess power enters the grid, and can be sold to other customers on the system. Gebhardt said Mission Valley Power told him around 50-60 customers participate in the solar program.
“In the summertime my experience has been that we generate a lot more than we use and in the winter time we use a lot more than we can generate,” Gebhardt said.
For two years Gebhardt generated energy and had a running banked energy credit.
In April 2021, all of his banked energy credit, approximately $350, disappeared on his bill. Gebhardt was told that Mission Valley Power has an annual “true up” period where in April of every year, the banked energy bill resets to zero.
“Nothing was ever said to me that they would have a true-up period, Gebhardt said. “There was nothing in their literature. I was not told anything either. There was no true up used with me in April 19 and April 20.”
Gebhardt said Mission Valley Power gave him copies of a policy that was adopted in 2005 saying that there would be an annual true up period. He said at that time he couldn’t find it on the company’s website, though it has since been updated there. He also says he kept copies of the documents signed for the power agreement, and they don’t match the ones Mission Valley Power provided him copies of from their files. He believes the files were altered.
Mission Valley Power’s General Manager Jean Matt said that the company is federally regulated and cannot comment on individual customer’s accounts. Upon more investigation, it appears that …….