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State’s 2,500 Buildings Could Become More Energy Efficient after Governor’s Signature

(Little Rock, AR) – Legislation (SB340) to better enable state agencies to contract with private energy companies for energy cost saving improvements to any of the state government’s 2,500 buildings, was adopted by the Arkansas State House of Representatives today clearing the bill’s last hurdle before being sent to Governor Mike Beebe for his signature.

Introduced by Rep. Greg Leding, (D-Fayetteville) and Senator David Johnson (D-Little Rock) and endorsed by the Arkansas Advanced Energy Assocation, (AAEA), SB340 would amend the Guaranteed Energy Cost Savings (GECS) Act by authorizing state agencies to use existing maintenance and operation funds to pay for energy improvement projects and transferring administrative authority for the energy savings program to the Arkansas Energy Office. 

The bill was unanimously adopted by the Senate earlier this month and is expected to spur job growth in the energy savings industry while reducing operational costs for state agencies.

Rep. Leding and Sen. Johnson are co-chairs of the Legislative Task Force on Sustainable Building Design and Practices, which conducted extensive hearings last year on needed improvements to the GECS ACT. They introduced SB340 as a common sense solution to various barriers that were hindering participation by state agencies in a program to achieve energy savings goals enacted by the legislature in 2009.  The task force heard testimony from multiple experts, including state administration officials, energy savings companies, and others prior to the introduction of the amendment.

“This amendment creates new jobs in energy efficiency service and products manufacturing industries in Arkansas, already among the fastest growing sectors in the state,” said Representative Leding.  “In addition to creating new jobs, it will also enhance comfort and air quality for current state employees who work in these buildings.”

The Johnson-Leding amendment will establish the Arkansas Energy Office at the Arkansas Economic Development Commission (AEDC) as the agency to certify qualified contractors and to evaluate and oversee approved projects.  Unlike current law, this change will allow for energy efficiency retrofits and renewable energy projects to be more easily financed with existing funds.  In addition, the GECS amendment requires development of a standard contract for use by all state agencies for entering into a guaranteed energy cost savings program.

“Most state buildings are years old and energy efficiency improvements would dramatically reduce their operational costs, thus reducing the tax burden for Arkansas citizens,” said Senator Johnson.  “Easing the process for buildings to undergo these improvements will encourage agency heads to pursue these projects and benefit from the cost savings in their budgets.”

“AAEA has endorsed the GECS Amendment because meeting these goals will save taxpayer money, create jobs, and improve the energy performance of state buildings,” said Steve Patterson, Executive Director of AAEA.  “Current law has proven too difficult to implement these goals and has resulted in little participation by state agencies and that means higher utility bills than are necessary.  AAEA believes that this amendment is critical for the state to realize its energy savings goals.”

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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