The state of Arkansas is known for its scenic natural beauty. Arkansas, known as The Natural State has fifty-two state parks, three national forests and five national parks. The current population of the state is estimated to be only 3.02 million people.
In August 2018, the Arkansas power plants used fossil fuel (74.7%), nuclear power (19.2%) and renewable energy (6.2%) to generate electricity. The fossil fuel power plants primarily used coal and natural gas for fuel. Hydropower was the primary source for renewable energy in Arkansas.
Arkansas’ state government has implemented financial incentives to increase investment in renewable energy, such as wind, solar and hydropower. The financial incentive programs have had minimal impact in the development of utility-scale renewable energy projects in the state. Although, coal is still king in The Natural State, environmental groups are starting to make headway.
In January 2018, the Sierra Club and the National Parks Conservation Association notified Entergy Arkansas of their intent to sue for violation of the Clean Air Act. The suit claimed the utility failed to get the appropriate clean air permits and take appropriate action to lower emissions on coal-fueled power plants in 2007, 2008 and 2009.
Entergy Arkansas is a subsidiary of the Entergy Corporation, an integrated energy company engaged in electric power production. The Energy Corporation owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 MW of electric generating capacity. The Energy Corporation electricity to 2.9 million customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.
On November 16, 2018, Entergy Arkansas has reached a settlement with the Sierra Club and the National Parks Conservation Association to close the coal-fueled Lake Catherine power plant in 2027 and to quit burning coal at the White Bluffs power plant in 2028 and the Independence power plant in 2030. Entergy Arkansas will also seek approval from the Arkansas Public Service Commission for 800 MW of renewable energy projects.
In my experience, it is unusual that litigation like this reaches a swift conclusion. The cost for electricity ($/kWh) from coal-fueled power plants is now more than double the cost for wind or solar energy. In my opinion, the real winners of the litigation are the residents of Arkansas that will soon clean, renewable energy projects replace coal-fueled power plants across the state.