Arkansas regulators complete first phase of net metering proceeding

Dive Brief:

  • Arkansas regulators have voted to grandfather existing solar customers into retail net metering rates for the next 20 years, according to a report in Arkansas Business.
  • The Public Service Commission made other decisions palatable to the solar industry as well, including to allow seasonal net metering for agricultural customers and maintain the original net metering rates with the grandfathered system if the home is sold. 
  • Last year, the state legislature enacted Act 827, directing the commission to review changes to the net metering compensation system. Another order on future solar rates for new solar systems is expected in the fall. 

Dive Insight:

State lawmakers last year split the net metering review into two proceedings, and the PSC has now issued orders addressing the first slate of issues: agricultural net metering, the size of eligible systems, and homeowner issues. 

While community solar installations are allowed, the commission determined solar customers would need to own their panels rather than lease. On the other hand, regulators did not set a limit on the size of eligible facilities.

There are relatively few solar customers in Arkansas, and advocates worry changes in the next part of the proceeding could slow the market's growth if regulators make too deep a cut to remuneration rates.

The debates over cost shifting in Arkansas mirror those seen in other states, but so far a common solution has not been reached. In December of last year, the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada unanimously approved a draft order to restore retail rate net metering to customers in Sierra Pacific Power's service territory. The same month in Arizona, regulators voted 4-1 to eliminate retail rate net metering and replace it with a reduced compensation mechanism.

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Filed Under: Solar & Renewables