Energy

The Arkansas Public Service Commission can be thankful this season for some very outspoken electricity customers. More than 200, mostly private residents have published comments ahead of a public hearing Nov. 30 on Docket 16-027-R, proposed changes to net metering.

Net metering is a utility industry term. When big electricity providers like Entergy, SWEPCo and the electrical cooperatives send electricity into a home, it's "metered," typically by the kilowatt-hour. The transportation lines between power plants and customers is called the grid. When customers with solar panels or windmills produce more electricity than they consume, they can push electricity back out onto that grid and get credits from the power company. Thus, consumption may be offset by contribution.

Clean Line Energy Partners

Clean Line Energy Partners, headquartered in Houston, Texas intends to build five long-haul, high-voltage clean power transmission lines across at least 10 states. 

Together, the “Clean Lines” could transport more than 15,000 megawatts of new industrial wind energy generated in Kansas, Iowa, Texas and Oklahoma to utility markets across the eastern half of the U.S. 

But progress along all the clean lines, including a controversial route through Arkansas, remains tangled by opposition.

Invenergy

A public-private partnership is pushing ahead with plans to build the nation's largest wind farm — the second largest in the world — in western Oklahoma.

The Wind Catcher Energy Connection Project is a collaborative venture by Invenergy, a global renewable energy design firm based in Chicago, Public Service Company of Oklahoma (PSO) and Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO) which serves three states, including western Arkansas.

The wind project, scheduled to go on line in late 2020, will yield low-cost clean power as well as jobs.

Bobby Ampezzan / ARKANSAS PUBLIC MEDIA

CLARKSVILLE — Before a gathering of Rotarians enjoying corn on the cob and barbecue pork, inside a cool room at the University of the Ozarks, the state’s former lieutenant governor and the city’s utilities manager explain the prescience of a 20,000-module solar array in 20 slides.

 

It's a roughly $10 million investment, or about what the city itself spends in just eight months for power, since it doesn’t generate any itself, according to the manager, John Lester.

Ann Kenda / Arkansas Public Media

CLARIFICATION: Michele Reba is with the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Agricultural Research Service, Delta Water Management Research Unit. Her affiliation was misrepresented in an earlier version of this story.

Four Arkansas farms have made a deal with the world’s largest software maker, Microsoft. The Whitaker Farms in McGehee, Isbell Farm in Stuttgart, Hooks Family Farm in Hazen and Florenden Farms in Burdette join two farms in California and one in Mississippi as the first recipients of carbon credits for rice production. 

The program rewards farmers for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from rice, considered among the more environmentally damaging of all crops.  With a carbon credit, companies can exceed emissions caps by paying for reductions elsewhere, such as on a farm. 

Jonathan Gallegos / White House

Taking a stand inside Environmental Protection Agency headquarters in Washington, President Donald Trump on March 28th signed an executive order releasing the coal, oil and natural gas industries from pollution mitigation and thresholds set forth by the previous administration.

Speaking to a crowd of supporters, including industry executives and coal miners, Trump said his Energy Independence Executive Order fulfills a campaign promise for a "new energy revolution."

"Today, I'm taking bold action to follow through on that promise. My administration is putting an end to the war on coal.  We're going to have clean coal, really clean coal.  With today’s executive action, I am taking historic steps to lift the restrictions on American energy, to reverse government intrusion, and to cancel job-killing regulations. … And we're going to have safety, we're going to have clean water, we're going to have clear air."

Jacqueline Froelich / Arkansas Public Media

Arkansas Nuclear One, a few miles northwest of Russellville, is among 61 commercial nuclear power facilities in the U.S. operating ninety-nine nuclear fission reactors. Constructed in the late 1970s and currently owned by Entergy, Arkansas Nuclear One operates two pressurized light water reactors with the capacity to generate 1,776 megawatts of electricity, enough to power 355,000 homes and businesses.

The reactors are cooled by water drawn from Lake Dardanelle. Thick white steam rising from the power plant's iconic six-story hyperbolic cement tower is visible for miles. Locals, Russellville Mayor Randy Horton says, divine weather conditions from the plume. 

“In the old days, we would drive to the base of the cooling towers and fish in the hot water discharge stream. It never was threatening, never been scary.”

Oklahoma Geological Survey

Dirk DeTurck sits in a rocker on the front porch of his rural Conway home, nervously smoking a cigarette. The retired native New Yorker and U.S. military veteran says his neighborhood, filled with petroleum field workers, is not where he intended to settle when he moved to Arkansas. He gazes north towards the Ozark foothills. In 2004 that's where he built his 5,000 square-foot dream homestead on six acres perched atop a mountain ridge in between the towns of Guy and Greenbrier in Faulkner County.

University of Arkansas

The historic Southwest Experimental Fast Oxide Reactor, referred to as SEFOR, located 20 miles southwest of Fayetteville, Arkansas will finally be dismantled, and some nearby residents are wondering what might leak out.

On Friday, Entergy Arkansas Inc. demo-ed the Cecil Lynch Power Plant, a first step to redevelopment of the 130-acre North Little Rock site that’s located directly across the Arkansas River from the Bill and Hillary Clinton National Airport.

Nationwide, utilities are doing this kind of thing to “green up” their portfolios, so to speak. And to modernize operations.

The Arkansas Public Service Commission hosted a day-long public hearing Tuesday on net metering, the industry term for people and businesses who generate their own electricity, typically through photovoltaic solar systems, and push that power back onto transmission lines.

Carroll County resident Pat Costner walks under her three solar arrays this warm autumn afternoon to a shed where she keeps a collection of heavy-duty batteries.

“They’re fully charged right now,” she says, gesturing at the noontime sun above our heads.

The retired Greenpeace senior scientist operates a grid-tied solar energy system with an unusual electrical utility meter.

“It tells me if I am buying or selling,” she says. “Today is a selling day.”

OECC

Futurists have long foretold of two energy “unicorns,” sources that are as abundant and non-polluting as they are competitive in the marketplace. The dreamier of these is nuclear fusion, fuel to the stars! It chews up abundant hydrogen — that’s nine out of every 10 atoms in the galaxy — and spits out helium, the stuff of party balloons.