An eager reader asks for an update on Black Hills Energy’s plan to raise rates on folks who produce their own electricity at home. Some wind and solar producers opposed BHE’s tariff amendment, saying that it would wipe out the economic incentive for homeowners to invest in small-scale renewable energy. Black Hills Energy contended that letting homeowners negate their electric bill by using home-generated power unfairly shifts the fixed costs of operating the grid and generating steady power onto other BHE customers. BHE’s regulatory and finance manager Jason S. Keil testified to the PUC that BHE’s current rebates to home renewable-energy makers is too high and analogized to pedal power: I may ride my bicycle a lot and save on gasoline and car maintenance, but I still have to pay for car insurance, oil changes, and my garage.
BHE and the intervening renewable energy producers talked it out, and BHE was persuaded to put its tariff amendment on hold. On September 27, BHE and the intervenors agreed to collect more data and meet to discuss the issue further at least four times (twice in 2022, twice in 2023) to discuss how Black Hills Energy may strike a balance between charging all customers fair rates to cover fixed costs and encouraging homeowners to invest in small-scale home energy production. BHE will return to the PUC to ask to revise its Cogeneration and Small Power Production Service tariff, but it won’t ask for a new rate to kick in until January 1, 2024. The PUC approved that agreement and closed the current docket on October 14.
And hey, maybe Black Hills Energy will get so much support from the Biden infrastructure plan that it will be able to put off rate hikes for home renewable energy producers for a few more years after 2023!