Little Rock, Arkansas – The Arkansas Public Service Commission is currently considering recommendations regarding Arkansas’s “net metering” rules and regulations (Docket 16-027-R). Net-metering customers refer to Arkansans who generate their own electricity via renewable energy systems like solar power. A new report, commissioned by Sierra Club, which is an intervening party in the proceeding, quantifies both the costs incurred and the benefits provided by net-metering Entergy Arkansas customers and shows that net metering is good for all ratepayers. The study had the support and input of a broad range of solar advocates and businesses.

“Crossborder Energy conducted a comprehensive analysis of the costs and benefits of distributed solar for Entergy residential customers. We found that the direct benefits of distributed solar for all of Entergy’s ratepayers exceed the costs imposed on the utility or on other ratepayers who do not install solar. In other words, net metering of distributed solar does not shift costs to other ratepayers over time,” said Tom Beach from Crossborder Energy, the lead author of the report. “We also quantified the substantial societal benefits of net metering recognized by the Arkansas legislature, such as local economic benefits, and improvements to public health associated with less air pollution.”

Under current law, Arkansas net-metering customers may generate their own power and receive a 1:1 retail credit for any unused power sent back to their local utility. In Docket 16-027-R, the Commission is taking a new look at its net metering rules by considering proposals from utility companies on solar. Additionally, due to response to 2015 legislation, to pay net metering customers less for the clean power they send back to their utility, purportedly to recover costs of having such customers connected to the electric.

“We know first-hand that solar is an increasingly affordable option for Arkansans seeking to generate their own electricity. Consumer awareness about this renewable energy’s affordability and short-term payback has grown, expanding from more urban areas to rural and agricultural communities,” said Josh Davenport, co-founder of North Little Rock-based Seal Energy Solutions, which is a member of the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association, an intervening party in the docket. “As a result, our company, and other businesses in our industry continue to add new positions to meet demand, providing significant benefits to the state’s economy.”

In many states across the country, utilities are seeking to charge net-metering customers fees or pay them less for their exports than their clean, renewable energy is worth. Most states have rejected these proposals, and the Arkansas solar advocates intervening in this docket call on Arkansas’s regulators to continue to encourage the deployment of renewable energy. Distributed renewable energy generation provides clean low-cost energy that alleviates the need to build new transmission lines and power plants, also reducing the need to purchase expensive, out-of-state fuels like the coal imported from Wyoming Powder River Basin into Arkansas.

“For years, Audubon Arkansas has worked with utilities and regulators in Arkansas to reduce the amount of energy we waste and increase reliance on clean, local renewable resources. Climate change is the number one threat to Arkansas’s birds, and the energy sector is the number one contributor of greenhouse gases. We can’t fulfill our mission of protecting Arkansas’s birds and their habitat without making a transition to clean energy, and distributed solar power is an important part of the solution,” said Gary Moody, Public Affairs Manager, Audubon Arkansas. “It makes economic and environmental sense. We cannot afford any policy shift that short-changes Arkansas ratepayers who make clean-energy upgrades on their personal property.”

You can find the recorded telepresser here.