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Judge rules for solar power developers in Montana lawsuit

April 5, 2019

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A Montana judge has ruled in favor of solar-power developers who accused regulators and the state’s largest utility of trying to kill renewable energy projects.

The Billings Gazette reports District Judge James Manley’s ruling means the state Public Service Commission has 20 days to create a fair pricing scheme and contract terms.

The PSC suspended a federal law requiring utilities to buy power from alternative energy facilities after Montana’s largest utility, NorthWestern energy, complained it was overrun by small solar projects seeking to capitalize on the state’s guaranteed rate.

Attorneys for the solar developers accuse NorthWestern of wanting to kill energy development by third parties.

Manley ruled that commissioners knew their actions would hurt solar development. Commissioner Bob Lake was heard on a live microphone in 2017 acknowledging as much.

NorthWestern officials say they are considering whether to appeal.

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Information from: The Billings Gazette, http://www.billingsgazette.com

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