Shelly Baron, 501-537-0190 or
Steve Patterson, 501-537-0190 or

Bipartisan Majority of 30 Senators Vote to Remove Major Barrier to Growth of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Industries in Arkansas

(Little Rock, AR) – Bipartisan legislation to encourage Arkansas property owners to invest in energy efficiency improvements, water conservation improvements and renewable energy projects passed the State Senate, 30-5, today moving the state one step closer to joining 28 other states that have authorized Property Assessed Clean Energy financing programs.

Chief Senate Sponsor David Johnson (D-Little Rock) led the floor debate this afternoon explaining that SB640 would for the first time, “offer an alternative, low-cost financing option for energy improvements to homes and businesses in Arkansas.”

Johnson stated that his legislation would enable “voluntary formation of energy efficiency improvement districts” and would only affect interested property owners who elect to participate in the low-interest lending program.

Senator Johnson and Rep. Greg Leding (D-Fayetteville), the leading co-sponsor of SB640 in the House, co-chair the Legislative Task Force on Sustainable Building Design and Practices, which heard hours of testimony last year on various financing options for energy improvements to Arkansas commercial and residential buildings. SB640 is the product of those hearings along with years of efforts by industry leaders, clean energy advocates and policy makers.

AAEA has endorsed the PACE Initiative as a voluntary financing option for energy improvements that will increase property values, ignite job expansion in the energy efficiency and renewable energy industries while allowing property owners to improve their cash flow and reduce energy costs.

“We commend Senator Johnson for his exceptional stewardship of SB640 through the Senate,” said Steve Patterson, AAEA Executive Director.  “This bill now faces the scrutiny of the House of Representatives and we look forward to working closely with Representative Leding to achieve the same result in the House.”

Other original cosponsors of SB640 are Senator Jon Woods (R-Springdale), Representatives Jonathan Barnett (R-Siloam Springs), Charles Armstrong (D-Little Rock), Fonda Hawthorne (D-Ashdown), George McGill (D-Fort Smith), Betty Overbey (D-Lamar), Tommy Thompson (-Morrilton), Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) and David Whitaker (D-Fayetteville).

The PACE program defined by SB640 authorizes the voluntary creation of energy improvement districts to fund loans for energy efficiency improvements, water conservation improvements, and renewable energy projects by interested property owners.  The loans are repaid via a special assessment on the owner’s property.  Loan payments are generally less than the amount of energy savings achieved so most business owners experience an increase in cash flow.  Homeowners would enjoy energy savings and a reduced cost of living.  Without access to low-cost financing opportunities, Arkansas property owners must typically bear the upfront costs of energy savings projects, an obstacle that has stymied many energy savings projects in Arkansas. 

PACE is among several initiatives endorsed by AAEA in the current General Assembly session. Most policies were recommended by working groups of more the 70 industry leaders who were convened by AAEA Policy Director Ken Smith frequently throughout 2012 to discuss ways to expand the advanced energy economy in Arkansas.   Senator Johnson and Representative Leding have been at the center of the collaborative effort on PACE in order to remove one of Arkansas’s greatest barriers to energy savings projects that improve sustainability and energy efficiency.

“Today’s favorable action by the State Senate is an important signal to Arkansans that
their elected leaders recognize that PACE is good for property owners and good for our state’s economy,” Patterson said. “By creating a voluntary PACE program, eligible private property owners in Arkansas will for the first time have access to low-cost financing that allows them to recover their energy savings while paying off their loan.”

Arkansas Advanced Energy Association is a business group dedicated to growing Arkansas’s economy by expanding our energy workforce and manufacturing base through the increased development, manufacture, and utilization of advanced energy technologies.

The Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation is the educational affiliate of the AAEA. 
The Foundation promotes greater public understanding of advanced energy in Arkansas through research, public education programs and economic and workforce development. The Foundation is dedicated to informing the energy policy debate with well-researched, fact-based data on the advanced energy economy in Arkansas and by providing a public forum where state leaders can
address Arkansas’s energy challenges for the future.

Recent Report Shows Global Economic Impacts of Advanced Energy
A report released in January 2013 by Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) shows that advanced energy was a $1.1 trillion global market in 2011, larger than pharmaceutical manufacturing worldwide. Read the full report here:

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