Joint Energy Committee
January 30, 2023
Rep Beck: Okay, members, if everyone gets to their seats. There is a conflict with another meeting on the Senate side, so we’re going to let the Senate do the introductions that they want to do and then because some of them will have to be leaving to go to that meeting. So with that, I’ll turn it over to Senator Gilmore.
Sen Gilmore: Thank you, Mr. Co-Chair. Great to be with you this morning. Thank you for everyone who showed up to be a part of this. Looking forward to the work of this committee, thank you to the folks out here who are going to be involved, I know, with policy and things in this committee. But Senator Ben Gilmore, Senate District 1, Southeast Arkansas. It’s my honor to be here and be Co-Chair of this committee.
Rep Beck: Thank you. Is there anyone else?
Rep Beck: Well, thank you, guys, and sorry for the conflict but all right. So with that, I’ll do an introduction of myself. I’m Rick Beck. I’m from District 43 now, which includes Conway County and Van Buren County. This will be the third or fourth time that I’ve Chaired this committee. By trade, I’m an electrical engineer so maybe that helped me get up here but anyway. So I wanted to take off just a little bit. I want to thank all of you guys for serving on this committee, and I have a lot of questions each time about some of the things that the committee does and how we do things.
So with that, what I’m going to do is just do a brief explanation. This committee, really one of the things that we’ll do, we’ll do a lot of traveling related to energy, the different types of energy that are out there and all that so that we can be informed because we never know what legislation might come down the pike. And we need to have that base knowledge of how this is affecting and so on and so forth.
So a lot of what we do in this committee is trying to educate. I always say I try to educate myself to what’s going on. And energy is pretty dynamic right now, everybody – the solar and the production credits and all that stuff that’s going to come up. We’re likely to see some bills this semester related to some of the net metering, some of the solar projects and things. In the past, we’ve dealt with a lot of the legislation that really had to do with opening things up for the solar people and different ones to try to promote to keep Arkansas first.
And I never forget that when Speaker Gillam asked me to be the Chair of this committee, and I went to his office I said, well, what do you want me to do. I said, well, what do you want this committee to do? And he said this– and this is what I go by– he says, Arkansas wins. And most people don’t realize that Arkansas wins on energy. We’re like fifth or sixth in the nation as far as cheap affordable energy. And he said I want us to stay that way. He said there’s a three-legged stool, and he said I always want to make sure that one leg that we can promote industry in Arkansas is reliable energy and that’s what we want to do.
So that’s what we got to do. We got to look at affordable reliable energy. Also always looking at the environment and making sure that we do everything we can to keep that. But that’s pretty much the focus of the committee. We’ll see what bills come down. This committee does not necessarily– we have a standing meeting room we’ll probably be meeting here or in A, and we do that because the meetings or almost all of them will be at the call of the Chair. So I’ll be looking at our agenda when we get some things on there and I’ll notify you guys and we’ll have a meeting. So that’s the way it goes.
So with that, I really appreciate all you being on the committee and everything but you can’t do this without a lot of support. And so I want to allow the staff to introduce themselves and what they can do and they’ll act to help you communicate.
Nelson (BLR): Good morning, my name is Michelle Nelson and I’m the legislative analyst, and I’ll be staffing the committee. And Sheila Bell is the administrative assistant, and we’re happy to staff the Energy Committee. Thank you.
Rep Beck: Thank you. I’m already driving her crazy over some things. So with that, what I’d like to do is just real brief introductions, and we could probably start over there with Representative Gonzales, and let’s go all the way over to the side there and just come across here. Brief introductions, your district and everything. And if there’s something particular about your district in terms of energy, like you have a coal-fired plant or something like that, a nuclear plant or something like that in your district you might mention that. So I’ll turn it over to you, Joey.
[inaudible Committee introductions]
Rep Beck: Okay. I would also like to at this time if someone out in in the audience out there would like to stand up and introduce themselves to the crowd. I think it’s important that we start to put names and faces together so when we see various legislation we’ll know who we’ll be working with.
Rep Beck: All right. Well, thank you all for being here today, too. I want to just briefly – and I’ll open it up later on if someone wants to ask a question or something, but a common question that I get a lot is the relationship between this Committee and the Public Service Commission. And the Public Service Commission, their role is really, they’re looking at us and the legislation that we bring out of here as far as giving them directions and guidance as far as the rules and things that they put into place.
So the relationship there is really that, I’ve met with them and every time I meet with a new person over there they tell us that’s what they want to hear. They said we need some more guidance on this and guidance on that, and so what’s the direction, what’s the intent of the legislation that you guys pass? So always be mindful of that when we’re passing legislation out here. If you see something that’s like, eh, we need to make sure that we give them good guidance in the direction that they should be heading.
One other just a personal privilege of mine is I always when I’m asked about what’s the next energy, right, is it solar, is it wind, is it nuclear, what is it like that? And I tell people it’s all the above. And Arkansas is a good example of that. Arkansas has hydro, we have coal, we have very limited wind, we have a lot of solar. So we have a really big mix of power generation here. And that has served Arkansas very well as far as reliability and affordability in our energy.
So I want to keep it that way to make sure that we stay number one, affordable and reliable. I want to win on that every time because that will help us to attract industry and jobs to our state. Is there anything else that someone else would want to bring forth or talk about? Seeing none, we are adjourned.