FOR IMEDIATE RELEASE: April 1, 2015
New Law to Help Cities, Counties Shave Energy Costs, Create Jobs
Little Rock, AR – Legislation to enable Arkansas cities and counties to save energy costs and create local jobs cleared its final legislative hurdle when the House of Representatives voted to approve it today. The Local Government Energy Efficiency Project Bond Act, SB 869, sponsored by Senator David Johnson (D-Little Rock) and Representative Warwick Sabin (D-Little Rock) to allow Arkansas cities and counties to issue bonds for energy efficiency improvements was approved by the Arkansas House today and will become law with Governor’s Asa Hutchinson’s expected signature.
Endorsed by the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association (AAEA) and the Arkansas Municipal League, SB 869 will enable cities and counties to take advantage of Arkansas Constitutional Amendment 89 authorizing these governments to issue bonds for energy efficiency improvements that will generate sufficient savings to make principal and interest payments on the bonds.
The bill also invites cities and counties to design their energy savings program to comply with rules and procedures promulgated by the Arkansas Energy Office last year for state agencies and universities under the Guaranteed Energy Cost Savings (Act 554), adopted by the 89thGeneral Assembly in 2013.
Guaranteed energy savings contracts are a useful tool for government agencies to reduce energy consumption and operating costs of government facilities while enjoying the protection of the energy provider’s energy performance guarantee. These contracts assure city and county governments that their energy savings will meet or exceed the costs of the energy efficiency project for a specified term. If the annual energy or operating cost savings fail to meet or exceed the annual costs of the energy efficiency project, the provider must reimburse the city or county for any shortfall.
“Energy efficiency improvements would dramatically reduce the operational costs of aging government buildings, thus reducing the tax burden for Arkansas residents,” said Senator Johnson. “Easing the process for buildings to undergo these improvements will encourage local governments to pursue these projects and benefit from the cost savings in their budgets.”
Local government projects that will allow for energy efficiency retrofits and renewable energy projects to be more easily financed with existing funds will help create even more demand for the services and expertise of a fast-growing advanced energy industry in Arkansas. A recent report by the Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation found that more than 700 Arkansas advanced energy companies currently employ 16,000 workers statewide. Nearly 60% of those jobs are tied to energy savings equipment and services.
“By promoting more energy savings among cities and counties, we can create more local jobs in energy efficiency service and products manufacturing industries in Arkansas, already among the fastest growing sectors in the state,” said Representative Sabin. “It will also enhance comfort and air quality for current city and county employees who work in these buildings.”
“AAEA actively supported this important legislation because improving the energy efficiency of government facilities will continue to save taxpayer money, create jobs, and improve the energy performance of buildings,” said Steve Patterson, Executive Director of AAEA. “We appreciate Senator Johnson and Representative Sabin’s efforts to see this bill become law.”
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. www.arkansasadvancedenergy.com
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. www.arkansasadvancedenergyfoundation.org
Report Shows Economic Impacts of Advanced Energy in Arkansas
A report released in January 2015 by the Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation (AAEF) shows that 25,000 Arkansans are working in the state’s advanced energy sector, with a total impact on the Arkansas economy of $2.8 billion in output. “The Economic Impact of Advanced Energy in Arkansas: A Survey of Business Activity in 2014” can be viewed or downloaded at www.arkansasadvancedenergyfoundation.org
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