House Insurance

Feb. 23, 2023


Rep Maddox: Call this meeting to order. Members, appreciate you coming back today on Thursday after the session. The only matter we’re going to address today, just so there’s no confusion. Is we’re going to address Representative Fite’s Bill, HB1370. Representative Fite, would you like to come to the table? Representative Eubanks, you’re recognized.


Rep Eubanks: I have a motion.


Rep Maddox: Go ahead and state your motion, please.


Rep Eubanks: I have a motion to expunge the vote by which we adopted the amendments to CRH153 yesterday.


Rep Maddox: That is a proper motion. That is a motion to expunge the amendment that was adopted yesterday. All in favor of expunging that motion say aye. Any opposed say no. The motion to expunge has passed. Representative Fite, you are recognized.


Rep L Fite: Thank you, Mr. Chair. The amendment we just expunged is on this amendment I have today. And the crux of this amendment is what we agreed upon yesterday. All parties came together at the end of this table and spoke of them. And I think they’re handing them out to you right now.


Rep Maddox: Members, the amendment that was discussed yesterday is being circulated right now. Take a moment to review that and then we’ll proceed. Representative Fite, you’re recognized to proceed and discuss– to present the amendment.


Rep L Fite: As I say, it’s pretty straightforward. It’s what we discussed yesterday. And I would be happy to answer any questions.


Rep Maddox: Thank you. We have a presentation on the amendment. Members, do we have any questions, just on the amendment that has been circulated? Seeing no questions. Representative Eubanks, you’re recognized.


Rep Eubanks: Motion to adopt the amendment.


Rep Maddox: We have a motion to adopt the amendment that is before you now. Is there any discussion on the motion to adopt the amendment? Seeing none. All in favor of adopting the amendment say aye. All opposed say no. The amendment has passed. Representative Fite, you’re now recognized to present your bill as amended.


Rep L Fite: Mr. Chair, I think this bill was discussed at great length yesterday. And as I say, we have an agreed compromise here on the bill and it comes in the form of this amendment. And I would be happy to answer any questions.


Rep Maddox: Members, do we have any questions for Representative Fite on the bill, as amended? Seeing none. Representative Fite– well, we do actually have some people who have signed up to speak against this bill. We have two people signed up. The first person is Jordan Tinsley. Representative Allen, you’re recognized.


Rep Allen: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Can we limit all comments to 3 minutes? How many? Two. Can we limit all comments to 2 minutes? A motion to limit discussion to 2 minutes?


Rep Maddox: That’s a proper motion. Motion to limit all discussion to 2 minutes per speaker. Is there any discussion on that motion?


Rep Ladyman: Yes, does that include questions?


Rep Maddox: The way that motion was presented, that includes questions.


Rep Allen: Yes.


Rep Maddox: So any further discussion on the motion? Okay. We have a motion in front of us to limit the discussion to 2 minutes per speaker. All in favor, say aye. Any opposed no. The ayes have it. Mr. Tinsley, you’re recognized to present, please.


Tinsley: Mr. Chairman and the esteemed members of the Committee, thank you again for the opportunity to address this bill. I want to respectfully disagree with the gentleman that’s sponsoring the bill. The so-called agreement that was struck yesterday did not include various stakeholders, including the clients I represent. I won’t belabor that again, but it’s a very long list of some of the largest job creators and manufacturers in the State of Arkansas. We continue to have extremely strong concerns about numerous provisions in the bill. I’ve been a regulatory attorney for over a decade, and there are provisions in this bill that even I struggle to understand. This bill is going to have horrible consequences for the state in all the ways that were detailed before you yesterday. And I would again ask you to reflect on who you heard from yesterday in favor of this bill. Because they were nobody but utility executives. And everybody testifying against the bill presented a very compelling argument for why this bill deserves further study. This bill deserves further scrutiny. This bill is going to make massive changes to our state’s energy policy. And it’s going to have extreme ramifications for many facets of the lives of Arkansans. And it is extremely troubling to my clients that the bill is being pushed through, for lack of a better phrase, without adequate vetting. And I’m disappointed, to say the least, that my comments have been limited to 2 minutes today. Again, it’s a very complicated issue. It’s an issue that deserves far more consideration than this body has given it, even though we were here all day yesterday. I think that each of you should have serious reservations about the bill based on what you heard yesterday. Thank you.


Rep Maddox: Thank you, Mr. Tinsley. Shawn McMurray is the last person signed up to speak. You’re also limited to 2 minutes, so proceed.


McMurray: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. My name is Shawn McMurray. I spoke yesterday as well. And I’m a colleague of Mr. Tinsley’s. I want to just specify, I would say there are still, after the amendments, at least 15 or 16 provisions that we object to. I will highlight three. One, that the bill still causes cost shifting because this bill will increase the bills of all utility customers by increasing their fuel charge, as I discussed yesterday. Second, it still prohibits customers with interruptible service – about over 80 customers in the state at this point – from using net metering under this law. And it allows utilities to modify their rates regarding net metering without getting approval from the PSC for a general rate increase. Those are just three of the many problems that AEEC and its members still have with this bill. Thank you.


Rep Maddox: You actually have a minute left. Any questions by the Committee? Okay. Seeing none. Sir, thank you for your testimony. Well, it appears we have one more speaker. Brent Stevenson, you’re recognized.


Stevenson: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee, and I apologize for taking up your time. But yesterday I may have misanswered a question that Representative Lundstrom asked me as if I had– I thought she asked, had you talked to sponsors about changes in the bill. And I misheard that and I replied that I had talked to the co-ops. That is not one of the sponsors of the bill. So I need to make a public apology to the sponsors, Representative Fite and Senator Dismang at this point. Secondly, I want you to know this is one thread, net metering is one thread in the fabric of the energy, very complex energy situation in this state, but it’s an important thread. Net metering, notice I’m not using the term solar. Let me throw this back at you. In 2028, 2030 the coal plants are being decommissioned that Entergy and the co-ops and others own. I asked this morning, Mr. David Palmer, can you tell me what sources you’re considering to be able to replace the firm energy that coal creates? He would not answer the question. So let’s just take this for example. If someone wanted to create a biomass plant for 20 megawatts today because they need the electricity that they don’t know they’re going to have in five years if they’re going to have it. And the president and CEO of the co-op just said solar does not add up. It won’t replace the coal. Let’s keep that in mind. If you want to build a biomass plant that can create firm energy, it’d take about five years to plan and construct. That five years runs out in whoa, 2028. Let’s cut it that thin, and you’ve got many constituents at home – I mean this very respectfully – when their lights go out all you have to do is look in the mirror. Thank you, very much, Mr. Chairman, members of the Committee.


Rep Maddox: Thank you, sir. There’s no one else signed up to speak for or against this bill. Representative Fite, would you return to the table, please? Representative Fite, I believe Representative Ennett has a question she would like to ask.


Rep Ennett: Thank you, Mr. Chair. Representative Fite, is your intent under this bill a non-residential net metering customer maximum allowable size would be five megawatts or 100% of a customer’s actual usage for the previous year?


Rep L Fite: Okay. Residential will be 25 kilowatts or the highest month of the previous 12 months. Is that what you were looking for? Yes. Okay.


Rep Maddox: Thank you, Representative Fite. Any further questions by the Committee? Seeing none. Representative Fite, you’re recognized to close for your bill.


Rep L Fite: Mr. Chairman, I am closed for my bill.


Rep Maddox: Okay. Representative Fite has closed for his bill. What is the will of the Committee? Representative Ladyman has requested, has asked for a motion do pass. That is a proper motion. Is there any discussion on the motion? And this is do pass as amended, yes, sir. Any discussion on the motion? Okay, seeing none. All in favor of motion do pass as amended say aye. Any opposed say no. Congratulations, Representative Fite, you have passed your bill as amended.


Rep L Fite: Thank you, Mr. Chair.


Rep Maddox: Committee. Thank you for your patience. We are adjourned.