The Arkansas Energy Office (AEO), a division of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, advocates and promotes energy efficiency, emerging technologies, and resource development through energy education and information programs. The AEO, with funding from the U.S. Department of Energy, State Energy Program (SEP), manages a variety of programs that assist Arkansans with their energy usage.
Among the programs the AEO utilizes SEP funding to support is the Employer Assisted Home Energy Assistance Loan (HEAL) Program. HEAL provides zero-interest loans for cost-effective energy retrofits in the industrial and commercial sectors. In turn, a portion of the energy savings are used by the industrial/commercial partner for an employer-sponsored program to fund energy improvements for their employees. To date, 385,000 square feet of space in 14 commercial buildings have been renovated with energy efficient equipment, and 15 industrial partners have implemented more efficient equipment in their processes and buildings under the program.
One industrial participant, L'Oreal USA, implemented a lighting retrofit project in its facility, and in turn used the savings to establish a residential energy revolving loan fund for its employees. The lighting retrofit is expected to save the company thousands on their annual energy costs, while allowing their employees to realize additional savings at home.
The AEO is also using SEP funds to assist the state's poultry industry. Grants are available through the AEO's Arkansas Poultry Lighting Rebate program to help reduce electrical consumption for lighting in poultry houses. To date, 147 poultry broiler growers statewide have replaced inefficient lights with 46,876 dimmable, high-intensity LED lights. The lighting retrofits are saving an estimated 13,078,404 kilowatt-hours (kWh) -- meaning significant cost savings to growers – according to estimates generated by the University of Arkansas through AEO’s Advanced Lighting Technology for Poultry Growers project.
Additional efforts to support the state's industrial sector also benefit from SEP funds, including a low-interest, revolving-loan program to encourage Arkansas industries to invest in clean technologies and more energy-efficient operations. In 2011, a recycler of drilling mud and fluids used in natural gas exploration, completed an expansion of its operation with a loan from Industrial Energy Technology Loan Fund. The expansion allowed the company to recycle more diesel fuel from drilling mud. Not only did this result in an immediate reduction in electricity consumption, saving nearly 500 MWh in six months, but also produced 56,591 mmBtu of energy savings from the recovery of 402,481 gallons of diesel from drilling mud.
Another SEP funded program, the Green Technology Grant, targets companies that make or sell products that contribute to renewable energy production or programs that reduce energy use. Twelve grants have been made under the program, with three grants going to companies to produce energy efficient equipment and the remainder going to energy efficient equipment installations. Grant recipient SPLASH Super Pools, received the Southern Growth Policies Board's 2011 Innovator Award for diversifying its product line with a Green Technology Grant. SPLASH's new products include equipment used by wastewater treatment facilities and food processing plants to capture methane gas.
Renewable energy production also benefits from the SEP supported Renewable Technology Rebate Fund. The program provided production based- incentives for the installation of renewable energy systems. Prior to its launch in 2009, there were 27 net-metering photovoltaic customers in Arkansas with a combined installed capacity of 214 kilowatts (kW). Under the rebate program, 124 small-scale renewable energy installations – mostly solar – have been installed with a combined capacity of 843 kW in addition to 27 domestic solar-hot water heaters totally 2,753 sqauare feet of collectors.