Mollie Merry Campbell
Arkansas Advanced Energy Association’s 5th annual “emPOWERing Arkansas” conference showcases growing industry’s impact on economy, communities
Little Rock, AR – More than 200 advanced energy leaders and policy makers from across the state gathered today for the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association’s (AAEA) 5th annual meeting and policy conference, “emPOWERing Arkansas,” at the Embassy Suites in west Little Rock.
The program included a panel discussion by electric utility executives regarding their respective strategies to include more renewable energy in their portfolios. Dr. Katherine Johnson, independent monitor of Arkansas’s utility energy efficiency programs, gave the keynote address and praised Arkansas as a model for its efforts in a relatively short period of time.
“The energy efficiency community in Arkansas is regarded as one of the leaders in the Southeast and nationally as well,” Dr. Johnson said. “These significant accomplishments are due to the hard work of the Parties Working Collaboratively (PWC) established by the Arkansas Public Service Commission in 2006.”
AAEA has participated for four years in the PWC along with the state’s seven public utilities and other interested parties to develop a plan to extend utility energy efficiency programs through 2019.
Ken Smith, policy director for AAEA, led a roundtable discussion on renewable energy initiatives with executives of Arkansas’s utility companies. The participants stressed the importance of a diversified portfolio of energy sources.
“Renewable energy is an extension of the diversity conversation and part of the evolution of the energy marketplace,” said Venita McCellon-Allen, president and chief operating officer of Southwestern Electric Power Company (SWEPCO). “Wind has developed as a major resource. It is now economic.”
Paul Means, manager of public affairs for Entergy Arkansas, expects an increased focus on natural gas and renewable energies, and pointed to the development of an 80 MW solar power facility in Stuttgart as an example of Entergy’s commitment to energy diversity.
“Diversity remains the key,” added Andrew Lachowsky, vice president of planning and market operations for Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Corporation (AECC). Lachowsky noted several advanced energy initiatives undertaken by its members, including the 12 MW solar facility at Aeroject Rocketdyne in Camden.
Also at today’s conference, industry leaders Ron Hughes and Orlo Stitt were named recipients of the Ron Bell Advanced Energy Leadership Award. Both men have been delivering advanced energy solutions to Arkansans for nearly four decades. Chris Ladner and Dr. Corbet Lamkin were finalists for the award.
AAEA Executive Director Steve Patterson was recognized for his leadership of the association and its educational affiliate, the Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation, during the organizations’ first five formative years. Patterson announced his retirement last month. Little Rock native Katie Laning Niebaum has been named his successor.
The Arkansas Advanced Energy Association (AAEA) is the business voice for advanced energy in Arkansas. AAEA is dedicated to growing Arkansas’s economy through expanded utilization of advanced energy technologies, including energy efficiency, demand response, natural gas electric generation, solar, wind, hydro, nuclear, electric vehicles, alternative fuels and smart grid. These are innovations that make our energy supply more secure, clean and affordable. Visit arkansasadvancedenergy.com, and find us on Facebook and Twitter.