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A Threat To Energy Independence (Editorial)

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Assistant Editor Kyle Massey’s Page One story on a U.S. Commerce Department investigation that threatens the development of the solar energy industry is required reading for anyone concerned about U.S. energy independence. And that should be everyone.

The Commerce Department’s probe into whether China is circumventing tariffs may be an important one, but its timing is, as Arkansas Public Service Commission Chairman Ted Thomas notes, disastrous, coming as it does during a global energy crunch, largely brought on by Russia’s war on Ukraine. Thomas called it “imbecilic.”

The investigation has delayed two of Entergy Arkansas’ largest solar projects and poses a “grave threat” to the solar power industry — and solar power jobs — in this state and across the country, according to former Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, CEO of Scenic Hill Solar of Little Rock.

Entergy representative Kacee Kirschvink put her finger on one important aspect of the problem — in addition to the curtailment of what has been a booming sector in Arkansas — when she told Massey, “A diverse energy mix is key to keeping the power flowing, while keeping costs down.”

“The energy situation right now is volatile, and people have been looking at solar energy for its resiliency and backup, a sort of strengthening of their independence,” Seal Solar CEO Josh Davenport said.

Halter called for the issue to be addressed as quickly as possible, and the Commerce Department has promised to complete its inquiry by September.

We echo Halter’s call for a quicker resolution to the matter. More than a burgeoning industry is at stake. Rogue nations can inflict great damage on other countries when they hold energy supplies hostage, and the sooner the United States can achieve something close to energy independence, the more secure we will be.

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