Little Rock – Sen. Dave Wallace (R- Leachville) and Rep. Aaron Pilkington (R- Clarksville) filed SB 145 last week to expand access to solar energy in Arkansas.
Arkansas has the 11th best sunlight in the nation for solar energy, but ranks 43rd among states in solar policy. Expanding access to solar in Arkansas will create good paying jobs and home grown energy. This bill allows more options for customers to access solar as well as increases the amount of energy they are allowed to produce. Specifically, this legislation would:
1. Allow third-party purchasing options. Third-party purchasing is a popular solar financing tool that allows residents or businesses to benefit from a solar installation owned by a solar company. This arrangement allows more people to transition to solar by removing upfront barriers like installation and maintenance costs. Arkansas is one of five states that prohibits third-party purchasing models. States that have not allowed third-party ownership have fallen significantly behind in distributed solar development. This is particularly harmful for nonprofits, government buildings, schools, and churches which often cannot access federal solar incentives without working with a 3rd party to operate the system on their behalf.
2. Increase the solar facility size limit. Arkansas limits the size of net metered installations at 25 kilowatts for residential customers and 300 kilowatts for commercial customers. States like New Mexico and Massachusetts allow systems over 400x this size, and Ohio and New Jersey have no size limits at all. Raising our system size limit to 1 megawatt is a reasonable step to encourage more and larger projects in Arkansas.
Rep. Aaron Pilkington, a long-time proponent of free market principles, issued the following statement: “Expanding access to solar is common sense and more competition in the market benefits consumers. This legislation accomplishes these goals and I’m proud to sponsor it.”
Sen. Dave Wallace, who hails from Mississippi County, issued the following statement: “I ran on a platform of reducing government regulations and increasing job opportunities. This legislation is a vital step forward. Solar is one of the fastest areas of job growth in the country and we don’t need to fall behind in Arkansas.”
Gary Moody, Interim Director of Audubon Arkansas issued the following statement: “Audubon Arkansas is proud to help bring the conservation and business communities together. Our cooperation is needed for Arkansas to realize win-win opportunities that benefit people and birds.”
The Arkansas Advanced Energy Association issued the following statement from executive director Katie Niebaum: “Demand for advanced energy technologies like solar energy has grown steadily across Arkansas as businesses, public entities, and homeowners seek to meet customer expectations, generate economic development and control costs. Solar development can play an enhanced role in the state’s economy and create new jobs if we allow greater access to this advanced energy resource.”
“Solar plays an important role in helping Walmart meet our energy needs,” said Steve Chriss, Director of Energy and Strategy Analysis for Walmart, Inc. “Expanding access to reliable renewable energy is the right thing to do for our customers, our associates, and the communities we serve in Arkansas.”