Great news for renewable power in South Dakota!
Following intense outcry, the state’s electric company, Black Hills Power, has withdrawn a proposal that would have penalized customers who generate their energy through solar or wind systems, the Rapid City Journal reports.
The rate increase, called the “Residential Demand Service,” would have added an additional $5 to $20 on top of what a non-generating customer pays, Think Progress writes.
The decision to nix the extra charge is especially important because the state isn’t exactly friendly towards renewables. As one South Dakota solar family tells the Journal, “Thanks to years of consistent lobbying by utility companies that fear the growth of homegrown generation, the South Dakota Legislature has avoided creating the solar-power incentives other states have.”
As it happens, the state is one of only seven in the country that does not require net metering (which allows solar users to sell the energy they create back to the utility). Instead, the utility sets the rate — meaning South Dakota solar or wind users could potentially get much less money for what they put back on the grid compared to market prices.
However, Black Hill’s concession means that those interested in solar or wind power in the state no longer have to fear they will be penalized for making clean energy choices.
Still, other non-generating customers in South Dakota could see their bills increase. The solar surcharge was coupled with a proposal of a 13 percent rate hike for its 66,000 customers across the board, which would amount to an extra $13 per month to the average bill. Black Hills had asked to increase rates in order to cover repairs on the grid following an October blizzard. South Dakota’s Public Utilities Commission will decide on the rate proposals by early next year. But as we’ve said before, if anything, it’s likely that this increased fee will make more people want to make the switch to renewable energy.
And as we previously reported, unfortunately, Arizona and Georgia already levied this so-called “sun tax” on solar users, even though their homes use less power and return excess power to the grid with the energy generated by their panels. These extra charges stifle and discourage renewable alternatives, which doesn’t help us in this fight to curb our dependence on fossil fuels.
The good news is, however, more and more people are standing up to Big Power, just like South Dakota. Last month, when Utah’s Rocky Mountain Power similarly tried to propose a sun tax, residents fought back and the company abandoned the plan.
As climate change causes more Americans to embrace and shift towards renewable energy, the future of the planet is only looking bright.