Arkansas has recently seen a lot of activity when it comes to happenings in the solar world. There’s been enough to send any advocate of solar power in Arkansas over the moon, and with very good reason. In late February, the first Arkansas Advanced Energy Day was announced, designed to bring attention and interest to the renewable energy industries in the state. Then in March, the Arkansas State Senate passed Bill 145, making third party solar leasing available, as well as increasing the size limit of solar panel projects.
And now there’s even more developments. Solar power in Arkansas is advancing once more, thanks to House Bill 1636. This bill will give government entities more opportunities and flexibility to take advantage of the state’s Energy Performance Contracting Program (ESCP). An Energy performance Contracting Program allows government buildings to get solar power in Arkansas, as well as implementing other energy efficient options, without impacting the budget.
It works like this: a government building, or large building such as a hospital, can take advantage of this system. The owner of the building in question, whether it’s local or state government or a private owner, looks for an energy service company to design, install, and implement energy saving plans, such as solar power systems. Energy service companies design, build, and fund projects that help reduce energy costs and save energy. Rather than being paid in a traditional way for these projects, the group that hired the contractor will pay the project back using the money saved by the project. This allows large buildings to get solar power in Arkansas without having to raise taxes, increase consumer costs, or using budget money. This program was first put into place in late 2014, and the 21 projects have been completed with a guarantee of nearly $150 million in energy savings. By 2019, that amount is expected to double.
House Bill 1636 reduces existing restrictions for ESCPs, which means more opportunities for state buildings to use renewable energy systems. Specifically, it lengthens the contract length, allows school districts to take advantage of this program, and helps incentivise more places to get solar power in Arkansas. The members of the Arkansas State Senate deserve a huge round of applause for their determination in seeing the Natural State stay that way. House Bill 1636 was passed unanimously, and will be sent to Governor Hutchinson for his signature.
It’s truly thrilling to see so much progress being made in Arkansas to help not only the solar industry, but other renewable energy industries as well. They’ve made some great strides- and it’s just the start of the year. We at Sunpro Solar can’t wait to see what the state of Arkansas does next.