Service charge

Arkansas Civil Service President Ted Thomas resigns over solar hookup issues

LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas — The president who is investigating allegations that some utility companies charge unauthorized fees to switch to solar power in Arkansas has resigned.

Arkansas Public Service Commission (PSC) Chairman Ted Thomas confirmed he submitted his resignation letter to Gov. Asa Hutchinson on Friday, three days before a Working 4 You investigation into the alleged charges .

Thomas said he resigned because Gov. Asa Hutchinson’s term will end at the end of the year, but also because of his growing frustration over solar issues with some utility companies.

“State solar policy is under attack,” Thomas said.

The PSC has launched an investigation into several electric cooperatives, including Petit Jean Electric Cooperative, after some Arkansans reported that the company wanted to charge a $500 application fee and asked them to purchase an insurance policy. a million dollars before going solar.

The additional fee was not approved by the PSC, but Petit Jean admits in the PSC’s written documents that he charges the fee. The co-op insists, however, that it follows federal guidelines.

Thomas said the state’s solar policy is designed to provide individuals with alternatives to paying high electricity and natural gas prices, but calls the ongoing battle frustrating.

“It’s being attacked, in my opinion, because there are some electricity cooperatives that don’t want customers to have that option,” he said.

Thomas has been president for the past eight years. His last day is September 30, and Hutchinson released a statement Tuesday regarding the president’s resignation.

“Ted Thomas was a national leader as Chairman of the Public Service Commission,” Hutchinson wrote. “At a time when the energy industry is changing, Ted has continuously worked diligently for the people of Arkansas during a critical time. I appreciate his willingness to serve the people of the Natural State and I wish him good luck in his future endeavours.

Arkansas Advanced Energy Association Executive Director Lauren Waldrip released the following statement on Tuesday:

“For years, Chairman Thomas has worked diligently and served admirably in his capacity on the Public Service Commission to protect both consumers and energy providers. Through this inquiry into co-ops, President Thomas was making an honorable effort to protect taxpayers in these particular co-op territories. These are the same taxpayers who will foot the legal bill for the egregious acts that I believe played a part in his departure. The co-op’s management has invested significant time and resources in continuing to directly insult the establishment that challenges its unethical practices. They showed an aggressive disregard for the law and an even greater disregard for their members. This situation is truly unfortunate for the hard-working Arkansans who are being left behind in these territories.

Working 4 You contacted Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas for a statement, but never heard back.