Net Metering and Easements

Net metering is a special type of installation that allows surplus electricity generated by the customer’s renewable system to go back on the utility electric system. The customer receives "credit" at retail rates for the electricity put back on the system, and generally has a year to use the credits. A net meter runs backward when the system produces more electricity than the customer is using. Later, the credits can be used by the customer when the renewable system is not producing so much electricity. If there is a surplus at the end of the year, the customer generally loses the credits.

Net metering is required by law in NorthWestern Energy's and the Montana-Dakota Utilities' service areas. Renewable installations of less than 50 kW capacity are eligible for net-metering on the NWE and MDU systems. All electric co-ops in the state have voluntarily adopted net-metering policies. However, individual policies may differ. Be sure to check with your electricity provider before purchasing renewable energy equipment. 

You can get further information by contacting June Pusich-Lester, NorthWestern Energy (406-497-2329) or see NWE's interconnection agreement at its website. For information on net metering on the MDU system, contact Karl Tammar, Montana-Dakota Utilities (701-222-7674). Rural electric cooperatives members should contact their cooperative’s office to see if net-metering is available.


Montana law allows the creation of easements to protect solar and wind rights. You will need to negotiate with neighboring property owners for these easements.

An easement to protect the exposure of a solar energy device must be created in writing and is subject to the same conveyancing and instrument recording requirements as other easements on real property. An instrument creating a solar easement must specify at least:

     1. the vertical and horizontal angles, expressed in degrees, at which 
         the solar easement extends over the real property subject to the solar 
         easement; and

     2. any terms or conditions under which the solar easement is granted or will
         be terminated.

Authority: 70-17-301 et seq. MCA

Wind energy
A wind easement is an interest in real property. A property owner may grant a wind easement in the same manner and with the same effect as the conveyance of an interest in real property. The wind easement runs with the real property on and over which the wind resource flows and may not be severed from the property. A wind easement doesn’t affect rights belonging to or the dominance of the mineral estate. It is not an easement or grant of right of way for transmission lines.

Authority: 70-17-401 et seq. MCA