Following backlash from customers, South Dakota-based Black Hills Power has dropped a proposed rate increase for solar users.
The surcharge would have applied to customers in South Dakota, Montana, and Wyoming. Although the company has withdrawn the proposal for now, it hasn't ruled out bringing it back in the future. Deb Theriault of Casper-based Range Solar & Wind said even a surcharge of $5 to $20 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 Wisconsin have proposed similar solar surcharges. Theriault says it is 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. Renewable technology is getting cheaper but in 2013, 89% of Wyoming electricity came from coal.