A ruling by the Public Service Commission has been upheld by a Montana Judge after Northwestern Energy contested the ruling.

"Judge Menahan here in Helena affirmed a PSC order from last year that established higher compensation rates for small wind and solar generators in Montana," Public Service Commission Spokesman Eric Sell said. "Northwestern Energy is required by federal law to purchase power from small generators."

Under a 1978 law known as the The Public Utility Regulatory Policy Act, Northwestern Energy is required to pay these “qualifying facilities” a rate that is based on the cost to produce the energy. However, Judge Menahan ruled that there were problems with that process.

"The judge ruled that Northwestern used a flawed methodology in calculating those costs," Sell said. "It's kind of a wonky issue, but the PSC issued that order, Northwestern challenged it, and Judge Menahan ended up affirming the PSC ruling, thus preserving a higher compensation rate for these small wind and solar projects."

The original rate ruling by the Montana PSC came in May of last year.