FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 11, 2015
Bill would give more Arkansans chance to generate their own electricity
Little Rock, AR – Legislation was introduced today and endorsed by the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association to authorize the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) to write rules allowing Arkansas consumers to lease renewable energy facilities such as solar panels and enhance their right to form community renewable energy “gardens”.
SB592, introduced by Senator David Johnson (D-Little Rock) and Representative Clarke Tucker (D-Little Rock), would amend the Arkansas Renewable Energy Development Act (AREDA) by allowing “Community Net Metering” in which two or more residents of a geographic area may share in the cost and operation of a net metering facility. This would reduce costs for each participating customer and would allow net metering facilities to be sited at more advantageous locations for generating electricity.
Additionally, the amendment would change the definition of a net metering customer so that the definition reads “an owner or ‘lessee’ of a net metering facility.” The proposed bill would also eliminate the artificial size restrictions imposed on individual net metering facilities of 25 kv for residential and 300 kv for commercial customers by sizing net metering facilities to 120% of the customer’s needs.
Net metering is a system in which solar panels or other renewable energy generators are connected to a public-utility power grid and surplus power is transferred onto the grid, allowing customers to offset the cost of power drawn from the utility.
“Arkansans should have the right to generate their own energy,” said Senator Johnson. “There is no reason Arkansas customers shouldn’t enjoy the same energy choices as their neighbors in states like Missouri and Kansas. These changes to AREDA remove barriers for any customer who wishes to generate and supply their own energy.”
“These proposed changes in the state’s renewable energy generation rules should help address the cost barrier for potential residential solar customers,” said Representative Tucker. “We hope this bill will pave the way for the APSC to draft rules that expand renewable energy generation without placing an unnecessary burden on the state’s power companies.”
AREDA, originally passed in 2001 has periodically been amended by the Arkansas legislature and the APSC, but after 14 years, less than 350 Arkansans are generating their own electricity. Despite declining costs of solar panels and other forms of renewable energy, cost remains a barrier to the many Arkansans who wish to generate their own electric power. This amendment would be an added incentive for consumers across the state to install net metering facilities in order to achieve energy savings and create jobs in the renewable energy industries.
“With less than 350 renewable energy facilities currently installed in the state, it is clear that under the current rules it remains too difficult for customers to generate their own energy even though we believe there is strong demand and solar prices have decreased dramatically,” noted AAEA Executive Director Steve Patterson. “We thank Senator Johnson and Representative Tucker for introducing this legislation to modernize the current rules. We believe that there must be a way Arkansas customers can have renewable energy choices without burdening traditional customers or the electric utilities.”
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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