Commissioners Amend State Net Metering Rule to Allow Aggregation

Little Rock, AR – The state’s limited number of renewable energy customers should rise now that the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) has issued an order amending Arkansas’s net metering rules. 

The APSC ended a year-long review of the state’s net metering policy in which the Commission first decided it had legal authority to amend the rules before issuing its final order on September 3 to allow additional meters for measuring electric load to a net metering facility, such as a solar panel array or a wind turbine.

The Arkansas Advanced Energy Association (AAEA) intervened in Docket 12-060-R to make a strong case for aggregation of net meters as a way to encourage expansion of renewable energy facilities in the state and to give utility customers in Arkansas an added option to reduce their energy costs.

Net metering allows electric customers who generate their own electricity using solar, wind, geothermal or other forms of renewable energy to bank excess electricity on the grid, usually in the form of kilowatt-hour (kWh) credits. In effect, the customer uses excess generation credits to offset electricity that the customer otherwise would have to purchase at the utility’s retail rate. Traditionally, net metering has been accomplished through the use of a single, conventional, bi-directional meter.

The amended net metering rule will allow Arkansas utility and rural electric cooperative customers to credit excess generation from their renewable energy facilities at additional meters owned by the customer.  Customers most likely to take immediate advantage of the new rule include colleges & universities, corporate campuses or agricultural operations, such as poultry growers or rice farmers with multiple meters, according to Ken Smith, AAEA Policy Director.

In testimony before the APSC, Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation Chairman Ron Bell, a customer and former Board member of the Rock Moore Water Authority in Independence County, stated that aggregation of net meters will make it more feasible for the Water Authority to install a renewable energy facility as a way to curb anticipated energy cost growth.

“The installation of renewable generation equipment may not reduce the amount of power the water authority currently purchases from our public utility,” Bell said.  “Instead, it will contain our future energy cost growth and allow us to assure our customers of an affordable price for their water supply well into the future.”

As noted in the Commission’s order this week, there are currently only 12 net metering customers of public utilities and rural electric cooperatives in the entire state whose annual generation exceeds consumption and who are in a position to aggregate their meters.

“This should allow utilities a reasonable period of time to prepare to process requests from potential meter aggregation customers,” the Commissioners stated.

Other key results of the amended net metering rule include:

  • allows a net metering customers to connect meters from different service classes (residential, commercial, etc.) to a renewable energy facility;
  • allows meters from separate properties owned by the same customer and in the same utility service area to be connected to a renewable energy facility;
  • incorporates an amendment adopted by the 89th Arkansas General Assembly and supported by AAEA earlier this year that allows excess generation from a renewable energy facility to be carried over an additional four months (previous law capped excess generation credits at one year);
  • clarifies that existing size restrictions of 25kw for residential and 300kw for all other uses apply to individual renewable energy facilities, not an aggregate of more than one facility owned by the same customer; and
  • does not allow combined billing for the purpose of net-meter aggregation.

To read the full order and the amended rule, click here

Arkansas Advanced Energy Association is a business group dedicated to growing Arkansas’s economy by expanding our energy workforce and manufacturing base through the increased development, manufacture, and utilization of advanced energy technologies.

The Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation is the educational affiliate of the AAEA.  The Foundation promotes greater public understanding of advanced energy in Arkansas through research, public education programs and economic and workforce development. The Foundation is dedicated to informing the energy policy debate with well-researched, fact-based data on the advanced energy economy in Arkansas and by providing a public forum where state leaders can address Arkansas’s energy challenges for the future.

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A report released in January 2013 by Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) shows that advanced energy was a $1.1 trillion global market in 2011, larger than pharmaceutical manufacturing worldwide. Read the full report here: 

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