LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Saving energy in Arkansas is giving the state money to spend in its economic sector.

Tuesday, industry experts will join local and state leaders at the Arkansas Energy Performance Contracting Summit in Little Rock.

The AEPC program has saved public entities in the state more than $120 million since 2014, and enables municipalities, universities and state agencies to improve energy efficiency with no upfront cost.

Katie Niebaum, executive director of the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association, says the summit is expected to generate additional projects in future years.

“It’s really been a success story here in Arkansas that is creating jobs, saving taxpayer dollars and conserving energy, and we’ve really seen an explosion of interest in this program,” she states.

According to the Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation, nearly 700 companies employing 16,000 Arkansans are involved in the advanced energy economy, which aims to reduce the energy requirement needed to sustain the same level of service.

The effort is made possible by the 2013 Guaranteed Energy Cost Savings Act that allows public entities to pursue energy performance contracts that will maximize the energy used by the state.

This year’s summit will include discussion of solar energy for the first time because of growing interest in renewables from public entities and residential and commercial customers.

Niebaum says that’s important.

“From a taxpayer’s perspective, energy performance contracting is saving taxpayer dollars, creating jobs and conserving energy, and it’s about being good stewards of taxpayer dollars and our state and local agencies are able to invest that in other operations,” she states.

Niebaum adds that the added benefit of energy efficiency is reducing the impact on the environment by using less fossil fuels and in some cases employing solar and wind generation to produce electricity.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service – AR

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