FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: June 4, 2020
Contact: Katie Laning Niebaum
Little Rock, Ark. – The Arkansas Advanced Energy Association welcomed a decision by the Arkansas
Public Service Commission this week reaffirming solar technology as a clear economic winner in
“The state’s solar business leaders have created careers, produced local community investment, and generated energy savings across Arkansas,” said AAEA Executive Director Katie Laning Niebaum. “The Commission has reaffirmed the economic benefits provided by solar technologies, setting the stage for solar energy to continue to grow in powering Arkansas’ economy.”
AAEA has been an active participant and the only industry-wide voice in the Commission’s consideration of potential changes to the state’s net-metering rules since Docket No. 16-027-R was opened in April of 2016. Throughout the proceeding, AAEA argued that distributed solar generation is a customer-financed investment that is a net benefit for utility systems and all their customers.
In response to legislative action in 2019, the Commission opened a “Phase 3” in the proceeding to
implement new net-metering provisions and determine unresolved issues, such as the rate structure for net-metering customers.
During the 2019 legislative session, AAEA members and partners worked with legislators to secure
bipartisan support for the “Solar Access Act.” Act 464, which took effect in July of 2019, enables third-
party financing options, and increases the facility size limit for commercial and industrial projects. The
act already has spurred greater adoption of advanced energy solutions, with a wave of cities, counties, and school districts seeking to deploy solar.
Throughout the regulatory proceeding, utility companies advocated for rate changes that would have
dramatically reduced the value proposition for solar customers, hitting small residential and business
customers hardest. The Commission dismissed these proposals and instead reaffirmed traditional net
metering as the default in Arkansas. In recognition of the significant investment customers already have made based on existing law, the Commission also “grandfathered” existing customers for 20 years—long enough to realize the benefits of their investment. These Commission decisions were in line with AAEA’s recommendations throughout the proceeding.
The Commission left the door open for utility companies to propose alternative rates for customers
investing in solar starting in 2023. Utilities will be required to make a compelling case based on
substantial evidence that such changes are necessary to protect the public interest—something they
have failed to do over the past four years. Still, participation in such proceedings is often expensive and
time-consuming for both utility customers and private sector competitive solar businesses.
The Commission also provided a mechanism for utility companies to propose grid charges for some solar
customers. Again, such charge proposals must be reviewed in yet another regulatory proceeding. Finally, the Commission raised several other issues that may result in more regulatory evaluation and design processes.
“AAEA will stay active and engaged on behalf of its business members to ensure that implementation of
new rules and any other proceedings continue to optimize advanced energy development in Arkansas,”
Read Order No. 28 in Docket No. 16-027-R, “IN THE MATTER OF NET METERING AND THE
IMPLEMENTATION OF ACT 827 OF 2015.”
The Arkansas Advanced Energy Association is the business voice for advanced energy in Arkansas. AAEA is dedicated to growing Arkansas’s economy and workforce 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. Visit ArkansasAdvancedEnergy.com; find us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.