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PNS Daily Newscast - November 14, 2019 


New evidence arises from the first impeachment hearing; one in four federal student loan borrowers defaults early on; and growing proof that vaping isn't the healthy alternative it was thought to be.

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It's World Diabetes Day, and health care, including the high cost of insulin and other drugs, is a top issue for many voters. Plus, do early states like Iowa and New Hampshire have an outsized role in the nomination process?

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Is Third Time a Charm for an Arkansas Clean Energy Act?

PHOTO: Solar power installation is coming down in price, and clean energy proponents say Arkansas could be doing more to encourage it. Courtesy of Renewable Power News.
PHOTO: Solar power installation is coming down in price, and clean energy proponents say Arkansas could be doing more to encourage it. Courtesy of Renewable Power News.
January 11, 2013

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Advocates for renewable energy in Arkansas will try again this year to get a new Clean Energy Act through the legislature, and they say there's more momentum now than in the past two sessions.

Frank Kelly, who chairs the Arkansas Renewable Energy Association, says Walmart is among the businesses that are busy embarking on solar and other renewable energy projects, but it's doing so at its stores in other states – hanging back on its home turf, for lack of incentives here.

"Oh, it's all policy – nothing happens without policy. Everybody wants a quick payback. In Louisiana, the payback for solar is five years; in Tennessee, the payback for solar is 10 years. In Arkansas, the payback for solar is 20 years."

Kelly says the Clean Energy Act goals are modest but important, and he blames the state's major electric utility, Entergy, for not getting behind it. This week, a new national poll says 86 percent of Americans want some leadership in Congress on shifting away from coal and nuclear energy to wind and solar, and on protecting water and air.

Most Arkansas solar installations are small in scale, but Rory McIlmoil, energy program manager for the environmental consulting firm Downstream Strategies, says the price of building a solar power plant is nearing the point at which it's competitive with a similar sized coal plant. He says both cost more than a natural gas plant, but points out that solar has the advantage of using free fuel.

"Natural gas peaker plants have other costs associated with their operation that solar power does not. High fuel and, depending on the size, high maintenance costs for your traditional power plants versus solar power plants."

A sharp decrease in the price of solar cells has led The Economist magazine and others to declare that in sunny areas with high electric prices, solar power can now compete even without government subsidies.



Chris Thomas, Public News Service - AR