FOR RELEASE: June 5, 2015

SEE ADAM BROWNING’S ENTIRE POWER POINT PRESENTATION HERE

Contacts: Shelly Baron, 501-537-0190 or shelly@arkansasadvancedenergyfoundation.org
Steve Patterson, 501-537-0190 or steve@arkansasadvancedenergyfoundation.org

LITTLE ROCK: Vote Solar’s Adam Browning told an Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation (AAEF) crowd on Thursday that solar power is beating other resources on price even without incentives.

“In strong solar markets, solar energy is cheaper than new coal, nuclear power and even natural gas,” Browning said.  “And all indications are that Arkansas is in a favorable position to develop a strong solar market.”

Browning showed that long term power purchase agreements (PPAs) for solar were pricing power from the sun as low as 4.2 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh) in New Mexico; 5 cents per kWh in Austin, TX and 6.1 cents per kWh for the TVA in Alabama.  “Show me where you can get those prices guaranteed for 25 years for any other resource,” Browning said.

State incentives for solar are becoming extinct and the federal tax credit accounts for about a 1 to 1.5 cent per kWh discount, Browning said.  “So even without the federal tax incentive you’re getting the best deal,” he said.

Browning was the guest speaker of AAEF in the foundation’s two-year old expert speaker series to highlight advanced energy technologies that create jobs and opportunities for the Arkansas economy.  Thursday’s event drew more than 80 advanced energy leaders and advocates to the Heifer Village Conference Room.

Since Browning co-founded Vote Solar in 2001 the organization has engaged in state, local and federal advocacy campaigns to remove regulatory barriers and implement key policies needed to bring solar to scale.

Browning spoke of the State of Georgia’s “Advanced Solar Initiative” which has cleared the way for third party financing of solar installations and helped that state boost its solar job market to greater than 3,000 workers.

Georgia Public Service Commissioner Bubba McDonald helped lead the effort in Georgia to boost the state’s solar market.

“I know the sun will come up and it’s free,” McDonald has said.  “It’s not owned by Georgia Power, it’s not owned by Bubba McDonald, it’s not owned by the Public Service Commission.  It’s free.  And to deprive people of the opportunity to take advantage of technology, to me, is wrong.”

Browning cautioned that healthy solar markets and consumer freedom are only as strong as a state’s renewable energy policies.

“I’ll tell you what we are finding,” he said.  “In states where a utility commission or power companies block solar power development, they are creating opportunities for the battery storage industry, which allows customers to generate and store their own energy without accessing the grid.”

Battery technology is improving and becoming more affordable.  Innovators like Tesla’s Elon Musk are moving rapidly to take battery storage products into the mainstream.  The company’s Gigafactory near Reno, NV will enable Tesla to scale up production of its Tesla Energy home, commercial and utility batteries by 2016.

Pam Speraw, owner of Arkansas’s Sun City Solar, said the state market is growing steadily as consumers grow more uncertain about grid reliability and find greater access to financing.  William Ball, who owns Stellar Sun in Arkansas, said that state policies allowing aggregation of meters is prompting growing interest in community solar installations.

Browning’s entire power point presentation can be found here.

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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. www.arkansasadvancedenergy.com

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. www.arkansasadvancedenergyfoundation.org

Report Shows Economic Impacts of Advanced Energy in Arkansas
A report released in January 2015 by the Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation (AAEF) shows that 25,000 Arkansans are working in the state’s advanced energy sector, with a total impact on the Arkansas economy of $2.8 billion in output.  “The Economic Impact of Advanced Energy in Arkansas: A Survey of Business Activity in 2014” can be viewed or downloaded at www.arkansasadvancedenergyfoundation.org 

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