Stimulating Energy Efficiency in Arkansas
Following a nationwide competition, Arkansas is one of only two states in the country to receive an award from the U.S. Department of Energy’s State Energy Program (SEP) under Area of Interest 2: Stimulating Energy Efficiency Action in States. This award provides resources to the Arkansas Energy Office (AEO) to support energy efficiency as an economic development tool and least-cost resource for Arkansas’ residents, business and economy. AEO will work with stakeholders to maximize opportunities to successfully deliver the benefits of energy efficiency to their customers, constituents and clients to reach at least a one percent annual energy savings goal.
A Three-Phase Plan
Phase One: AEO and its partners developed new and existing relationships through a series of stakeholder engagement meetings with key groups in Arkansas, such as the Parties Working Collaboratively (PWC), to ensure AEO can identify those critical new opportunities to support energy efficiency (such as the lack of energy efficiency financing offerings in the state) and develop effective partnerships to complement existing stakeholder efforts currently underway in the state. The PWC is Arkansas’ stakeholder forum convened by the Arkansas Public Service Commission (PSC) that includes utilities, program implementers, evaluators, utility customers, and consumer advocates in which all energy efficiency issues impacting the regulated electric and gas utilities in the state.
Phase Two: AEO and its partners developed a menu of programs and/or policy opportunities for consideration by stakeholders to maximize the job-producing and money-saving benefits of energy efficiency. AEO emphasized activities that leverage its core competencies and mission within the Arkansas Economic Development Commission to keep Arkansas competitive for high-quality jobs within the region. It was determined that the main effort would focus on developing energy efficiency financing options for energy customers in Arkansas.
Phase Three: AEO worked with partners and stakeholders to 1) evaluate the most highly recommended programs and/or policies and 2) help secure resources to implement them. These efforts will support Arkansas as a leader in the region, and where applicable, AEO ensured that financing programs are eligible for cost recovery and receive incentives for meeting verifiable savings targets.