KASU

Solar Energy

The Arkansas Public Service Commission is expected to close a docket soon that could substantially lower a cash incentive for Arkansans (and Arkansas companies) who invest in solar and wind energy production.

The commission is the representative authority over investor-owned utilities, sanctioned monopolies. The commission can affect utility rates — that is, bills. The docket’s been open for three years.

At issue is something called “net metering,” the act of sending electricity (generated by solar power system or windmill) out onto the grid from home or business and getting bill credits from the electrical utility. Created by Act 1781 of 2001, Arkansas’s net metering rate structure currently is 1-to-1. 

While the energy sector is bracing for higher prices under the impact of President Trump’s 30-percent tariff on solar goods manufactured outside the U.S. the city of Clarksville is ready to turn on Arkansas’s largest municipal solar array. The $10 million project was constructed by Arkansas-based Scenic Hill Solar. It’ll ceremonially open on Wednesday six months ahead of schedule.

CEO Bill Halter says it was made mostly with imported parts out of necessity. He expects future arrays to be more costly with the imposition of tariffs.