NorthWestern Energy (NWE), formerly Montana Power Company, periodically provides funding to its customers for renewable energy projects. In 1997, Montana established the Universal System Benefits (USB) program. The USB legislation requires all electric and gas utilities to establish USB funds for low-income energy assistance, weatherization, energy efficiency activities, and development of renewable energy resources. A typical NorthWestern Energy residential customer pays approximately $1 per month in electric USB charges. About $9 million is collected annually by NorthWestern, and about $1.2 million is used for renewable energy projects.
The E+ Renewable Energy Program provides custom incentives for projects that benefit organizations and communities for non-profit or government facilities. Projects receiving these funds often provide civic value including education and visible representation of renewable energy technologies to a broad audience. Broad Benefit Commercial solar PV incentives are awarded twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. The largest broad benefit commercial system size supported is 50 kW.
In order for a customer to receive the funds, the work must be completed by a NorthWestern Energy qualified dealer or installer, as directed by NorthWestern Energy's qualification requirements. Off-grid installations inside NWE's service territory are not eligible for USB funds.