Renewable

Increasingly, the state of Arkansas and its electricity generating utilities are building renewable energy into their portfolios. Currently, Arkansas is, as a state, just about last in renewable energy adoption. The Natural State is poised for a natural revolution.

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.

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.