The Financial Returns of Net-Metering

Heather Nelson Commentary


The energy landscape is quickly changing, and Arkansas is on its front lines. 

In 2019, for the first time ever, monthly electricity generation from renewables surpassed coal-fired sources. A record number of solar projects came online, ranking us 18th in the U.S. 

We can credit much of this progress to Gov. Asa Hutchinson and the Arkansas General Assembly, who have strongly supported advanced energy solutions at every turn, including recently passing the Solar Access Act.

After years of forward movement for the industry, we're now stuck at a crossroads as the Arkansas Public Service Commission debates the future of net-metering, or the credit solar owners receive for electricity returned to the grid. As a state, we must decide whether to continue to embrace pro-solar policies or sit back and lose the chance to become a national leader in renewable energy.

Last week, advocates, business owners, farmers and community members alike joined together at the PSC meeting in Little Rock to debate this issue. Many people spoke to the benefits of net-metering — both to their own pocketbooks and utility companies. Others urged the PSC to consider how changing our state's policies could significantly, and irreversibly, damage one of our state's emerging industries.

As many customers have seen first-hand, there are already several regulatory barriers to installing solar arrays on their properties. We can't afford to thwart our state's adoption rate further. By placing additional restrictions on net-metering, we'll miss the opportunity to produce energy right here in Arkansas and, at the same time, squander the unlimited economic benefits that go along with it.

Nationally, we've seen an increasing number of Fortune 100 companies, including Arkansas' own Walmart Inc. and Tyson Foods Inc., adopt 100 percent renewable energy goals and sustainability programs. If we want to be competitive in attracting new businesses and jobs to our state, we can't afford to upend net-metering. Instead, we must build on Gov. Hutchinson's and the Arkansas General Assembly's efforts to support fair, yet aggressive pro-solar policies.




Heather Nelson is the co-founder and president of Seal Solar, which offers turnkey solutions to homeowners, businesses, government entities and farmers. Since its founding in 2012, the firm has completed more than 325 — or about one in five — solar projects in the state.