Largest increase in solar array count ever;
AAEA business leaders assess solar market opportunities
Little Rock – Arkansas has recorded the largest annual increase in the number of net metering systems ever, the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association announced today, adding to recent reports of strong growth within the state’s solar economic sector.
AAEA’s review of annual electric utility filings with the Arkansas Public Service Commission found a total of 1,508 net metering systems as of December 31, 2018, a 520-net increase over the end-of-2017 number of 988 systems. Most systems are solar, with a few solar-wind and wind-only systems.
“These numbers are further evidence of the growing demand for advanced energy resources, which create job opportunities, secure local community investment and generate energy savings for Arkansans,” said Katie Niebaum, AAEA executive director. “The solar sector is an increasingly important economic driver in our state with tremendous opportunity ahead.”
News of the record-breaking net metering numbers follows a key victory at the Arkansas state legislature hailed as a major boost for solar power: passage of legislation that will allow third-party financing of solar arrays and increase commercial project size limits up to 1-megawatt.
Third-party solar leasing could double or triple the number of solar jobs in Arkansas, according to a recent analysis from the Business Innovations Legal Clinic of the William H. Bowen School of Law at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.
Arkansas already is among the fastest-growing states for solar job creation. The state had its biggest year of solar installation ever in 2018, according to GMT Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s latest market report. Arkansas added the 18th most solar projects among the 50 states last year, adding 118 megawatts of solar generation.
AAEA solar business leaders include Arkansas Energy Ventures, Dadeni Solar, Delta SunEnergy, Entegrity, LightWave Solar, Picasolar, Scenic Hill Solar, Seal Energy Solutions, Shine Solar, Silicon Ranch Corporation, Solar & Renewable Power Systems, Stone Creek Solar, Sun City Solar Energy, The Stitt Group, Today’s Power and Trem Wel Energy, with many more advanced energy companies integral to the state’s solar market. AAEA’s electric utility company members – Entergy Arkansas, Oklahoma Gas & Electric, Ouachita Electric Cooperative Corp. and Swepco – continue to invest in renewable energy as well.
Market insights from AAEA business leaders
Caleb Gorden, President, Shine Solar, Bentonville: “The level of interest and demand from residents of Arkansas has continued to increase as residents continue to become more educated on solar and its immediate benefits for those who adopt it. Solar costs continue to make sense for homeowners and the ability to easily finance systems for no money out of pocket are one of the biggest attractions. There is no new money out of pocket each month being spent on solar. Homeowners who install solar are simply trading utility costs for solar payments but they are fixed and reaping tax credits and ownership along the way. Its money already going out the door, now it just goes towards ownership of an asset. The decision continues to make more sense now than it ever has. Due to the steadily increasing demand, Shine Solar has grown from its two original founders to over 90 full time employees.”
Bill Halter, CEO, Scenic Hill Solar, North Little Rock: “Scenic Hill Solar continues to grow rapidly as solar is now the most economical form of new electricity generation for industrial, commercial, and governmental entities in Arkansas. Some of our clients are pursuing 100 percent renewable energy. New laws provide additional flexibility and financial options, and in some cases, reduced lead-time for government approvals. We are hiring additional talented professionals who are passionate about renewable energy.”
Douglas Hutchings, PhD, CEO, Picasolar, Fayetteville: “The solar industry is at a really interesting place in Arkansas today. Installing a solar array can have a great financial return in certain situations but access is often gated behind the ability to take advantage of various incentives. New policy is making it easier than ever to participate and I anticipate a doubling of the projects that we support over the next twelve months. Additionally, the fact that local technologies developed at the University of Arkansas are actively entering production is a testament to local innovation throughout the solar value chain.”
Heather R. Nelson, Co-Founder, President and Chief Operating Officer, Seal Energy Solutions, North Little Rock: “Seal Energy Solutions is poised for the largest year over year growth we have seen since inception. Now with the passage of Senate Bill 145, solar pricing 60% less than it was four years ago, and improved financing options resulting in the majority of residential clients seeing cashflow positive projects month one – the future for solar in Arkansas is bright. Seal Energy Solutions is humbled and honored to be a part of this growing industry in our home state. As such, we have recently created the role of Vice President of Operations and hired Stefan Booy; both the role and Stefan’s skillset are a natural step in Seal Energy Solutions’ growth as we enter year seven. Strategically, this role allows the founders to focus on strategic vision, business development, advocacy and specific growth/expansion plans; the timing could not be more perfect.”
Source: Data compiled from Arkansas electric utilities’ annual reports detailing existing net metering facilities under APSC Docket 06-105-U, due each year by March 15.
* Cumulative number of net metering systems from electric cooperative members of the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC).
– Data from years 2007-2012 available at http://www.apscservices.info/
The Arkansas Advanced Energy Association is the business voice for advanced energy in Arkansas. AAEA is dedicated to growing Arkansas’s economy through expanded utilization of advanced energy technologies, including energy efficiency, demand response, natural gas electric generation, solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, electric vehicles, alternative fuels and smart grid. These are innovations that make our energy supply more secure, clean and affordable. VisitArkansasAdvancedEnergy.com, and find us on Facebook and Twitter.