Energy in Arkansas
Though a small percentage of total consumption, its many waterways provide for a higher than average hydroelectric generation capacity. A higher than average solar exposure has recently begun to be taken advantage of in the state, with three solar photovoltaic generation facilities going online in 2016 and more under construction. Wind power potential is modest in Arkansas and the state has no utility-scale wind generation facilities.
A network of 17 regional cooperatives, four investor-owned companies, and a number of municipal providers generate and deliver electricity to Arkansas customers. Five utilities deliver natural gas.
Property assessed clean energy (PACE)
Arkansas enacted property assessed clean energy (PACE) legislation in 2013. The law enables bonds to be issued in voluntarily created energy improvement districts that are then used to fund low-interest loans for renewable energy or efficiency upgrades. Cities Fayetteville and North Little Rock have since formed local energy improvement districts.
Net metering rules in the state were first established by the Arkansas Public Service Commission in 2002 and were expanded in 2007. Energy generated by renewable systems up to 25 kilowatts for residential customers and up to 300 kilowatts for nonresidential is eligible. Under the law, utilities grant customers credits for excess energy fed to the grid. Unused credits at the end of a billing year are usable in the next billing year up to the customer's four-month average use in the previous year. Any additional credits are forfeited to the utility.
Arkansas ranked 17th among fellow states in 2014 for overall per capita energy consumption. The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy ranked Arkansas 27th among the most energy-efficient states in 2016, up from 31st in 2015.
The average per-kilowatt-hour electricity rate in Arkansas was $0.08 in 2014, the fourth-lowest in the country. Rates by sector in 2014 were $0.10 for residential, $0.06 for industrial, and $0.08 for commercial.
Generation facilities providing public power in the state include:
- five coal-fired plants
- 20 hydroelectric installations, including one pumped storage facility
- 10 natural gas-fired plants
- seven dual-fuel natural gas/petroleum-fired plants
- three photovolatic solar facilities
- two landfill gas facilities
- one nuclear power plant
- one petroleum-fired plant
In 2014, Arkansas' power industry released 30 million metric tons of carbon dioxide, 66,524 metric tons of sulfur dioxide, and 33,229 metric tons of nitrogen oxides. In 2013, Arkansas ranked 30th in the most energy-related carbon dioxide emissions and 16th-highest for per capita energy-related carbon dioxide emissions.
Three utility-scale solar photovoltaic generation facilities began operating in Arkansas in 2016:
- The state's first utility-scale solar facility, a 12-megawatt farm in East Camden serving an Aerojet Rocketdyne manufacturing facility. Excess energy from the farm is sold to the public electrical grid.
- A 1-megawatt farm in Springdale operated by the Ozarks Electric Cooperative
- A 0.5-megawatt farm in Van Buren operated by the Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative
Two solar photovoltaic facilities are in progress:
- An 81-megawatt facility scheduled to open in 2019 in Stuttgart
- A 1.2-megawatt array for a L'Oréal manufacturing facility in North Little Rock scheduled to be operational in mid-2017
Arkansas is 14th among states with the most installed hydroelectric generating capacity and 16th with the most generation from biomass. In 2011, hydroelectric installations generated 2,992 million kilowatt hours, while 1,668 million kilowatt hours were generated from biomass, mostly from wood products.
Arkansas' electric providers include four investor-owned utilities and a number of municipal and regional cooperative providers. Generation and transmission cooperative Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation provides wholesale energy to 17 regional member cooperatives in the state.
The Fayetteville Shale, a narrow Mississippian age geological formation that runs across the center of the state, accounts for nearly all of Arkansas natural gas production. Proven reserves of dry natural gas in the state were estimated at 12,789 billion cubic feet in 2014.
Marketed natural gas production in Arkansas more than doubled from 2008 to 2010. In 2014, natural gas production amounted to 1.12 million cubic feet, ranking it eighth-highest among fellow states. Arkansas accounted for 4.1 percent of U.S. production of marketed natural gas in 2014.
More than 1,000 minor earthquakes in 2010 and 2011 in Greenbrier led to the Arkansas Oil and Gas Commission to close several hydraulic fracturing wells. Scientists at the University of Memphis and the Arkansas Geological Survey determined the quakes were likely caused by underground fracking wastewater disposal. Local residents filed five lawsuits in federal court against Chesapeake Operating Inc and BHP Billiton.
Oil drilling began in south Arkansas in 1920 with the Hunter No. 1 well installed in Ouachita County. Commercial oil production began in 1921 with the S.T. Busey well in Union County near El Dorado.
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