Gov. Hutchinson: Net Metering Surcharge Should Be Fair

Oct 4, 2016

File photo of Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson.
Credit Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

The Arkansas Public Service Commission met Tuesday to consider changes to regulations on the process by which homeowners with solar panels or windmills can sell electricity back to utilities. At question was whether small-scale energy producers who take advantage of the process known as "net metering" would have to pay to access the grid.

Gov.Asa Hutchinson weighed in on the issue, as he answered questions from reporters in a joint press conference with Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin at the meeting of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC) on Monday.

Hutchinson said he has confidence the PSC will approach their decision fairly, noting that utilities and customers need a “technology or a capacity” to efficiently transfer electricity between sources, and funding for it could come from a net metering surcharge.

“To me the question is not whether it should be done but what’s the fair way to do it because the energy companies have invested in their transmission lines, the rate payers have paid for that. So how do you balance the cost-sharing of it? That’s going to be the tough issue for the PSC and I leave that into their hands,” Hutchinson said.

Hutchinson appointed PSC Chairman Ted Thomas in 2015. The other two commissioners, Elana Willis and Lamar Davis were appointed by former Gov. Mike Beebe.