Solar Gets a Win in Arkansas

May 24, 2022

There is an ongoing tug of war between utilities across America, who in general support solar energy but want to be in charge of building and maintaining utility scale solar generators, and citizens who wish to generate power on their own land and rooftops, and be compensated with a retail rate when the produce more then they need, and share to the grid.

Utilities say they bear the burden of maintaining the grid, and that smaller players who still need grid backup should be paid for power at lower “wholesale” rates, or even pay an additional monthly grid fee when they install solar. High profile fights going on in the major solar states like Florida, Arizona, California, Nevada – but also everywhere across the country. There are 50 states and 50 sets of rules, with no clearly superior approach at this time.
For now, smaller players have won a round in Arkansas.

PV Magazine:

In a state that ranked 30th in solar installed in 2021, the recent ruling in favor of net metering could boost Arkansas, “the land of opportunity,” to a new level of sustainability. Recently the Arkansas Court of Appeals ruled in favor of solar power, ending a battle among the Arkansas Public Utilities Commission, solar companies including Scenic Hill Solar, utilities including the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. and Petit Jean Electric Cooperative of Clinton.  The ruling essentially upheld the rate structure for net metering, which previously had stated that solar customers would receive the full retail rate for excess energy they send to the grid. In addition, the ruling simplifies the approval process for small solar systems and to aggregate smaller systems.

The history of this legislation dates back to 2001, when the Arkansas General Assembly enacted the Arkansas Renewable Energy Development Act (AREDA). In the ruling, the found that the increasing consumption of renewable resources “promotes the wise use of Arkansas’s natural-energy resources,” Calling solar an “indigenous energy fuel,” the ruling states that increased solar reduces dependence on imported fossil fuels. The General Assembly further found that “net energy metering encourages the use of renewable energy resources and renewable energy technologies by reducing utility interconnection and administrative costs for small consumers of electricity” and that “net-metering would help to . . . attract energy-technology manufacturers, to provide a foothold for these technologies in the Arkansas economy, and to make it easier for customer access to these technologies.”

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