Arkansas DOC Turns to Solar for Big Savings

By CN Staff

LITTLE ROCK—Arkansas Department of Corrections (DOC) makes up roughly 6% of the state’s annual budget, meaning any opportunity for savings is hugely beneficial to taxpayers. Entegrity is proud to announce another energy efficiency project with the department. This project, combined with the first phase completed in 2019, will help the department save more than $3.2 million per year between energy savings, operational savings, and capital expenditure avoidance.

Additionally, the project benefits from new Arkansas solar laws, which allow public entities to take advantage of federal tax credits and net metering rules. The improved efficiencies are yet another step the agency has taken under the leadership of Arkansas Corrections Secretary Solomon Graves to fulfil Governor Asa Hutchinson’s initiative for streamlined state government.

“Since taking office six years ago, my administration has taken steps to transform Arkansas state government to become more streamlined and cost-efficient,” said Governor Hutchinson. “The latest project from the now consolidated Department of Corrections is exactly the type of transformation we hoped to see. I applaud Secretary Graves and Secretary Keogh for the work they have done with their respective agencies in allowing cost saving projects like this to occur.”

In 2013, the Arkansas General Assembly passed Act 554 creating the Arkansas Energy Performance Contracting (AEPC) program. Act 554 allows Arkansas’ state agencies to participate in energy performance contracts, in which a project’s annual energy and maintenance savings are used to fully cover the cost of work over a specified period. Under the terms of the legislation and AEPC program guidelines, a project’s annual savings must be guaranteed by the company performing the work.

Secretary Graves said, “I’m excited for yet another initiative that will help us become more efficient in our operations without cutting services. This will result in improved delivery of services and will ultimately save the state and taxpayers money by allowing the Department to reallocate savings to meet other capital needs. I want to thank Governor Hutchinson, the General Assembly, and E&E for giving us the opportunity to improve our facilities with the AEPC program.”

The Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment’s (E&E) Office of Energy oversees the AEPC program, providing technical guidance and oversight on all projects. Becky Keogh, E&E Cabinet Secretary, said the AEPC program “promotes efficiency in state government, having guaranteed Arkansas taxpayers nearly $500 million in savings since 2013. We commend the DOC for its collaborative and innovative approach to reducing costs, conserving energy resources, and creating efficiencies.”

In 2017, the Division of Correction and Division of Community Correction, both now part of the consolidated Department of Corrections, signed Performance Contracts with Entegrity, a Little Rock- based Energy Services Company (ESCO). The Phase 1 Projects concentrated on the Division of Correction’s East Arkansas Regional Unit in Brickeys and Delta Regional Unit in Dermott as well as the Division of Community Correction’s correctional centers in Texarkana, Little Rock, Osceola, Fayetteville, Malvern, and West Memphis.

The 2017 projects included converting more than 17,000 light fixtures to LED, composting food waste for use in prison farm operations, comprehensive heating and air upgrades, and conserving water through a variety of strategic upgrades. In addition, both projects featured 300 kW solar arrays at the Division of Correction’s East Arkansas Regional Unit and the Division of Correction’s Osceola facility.

Since completion, the actual annual savings from the first phase have exceeded the $1.1 million guaranteed by Entegrity to the Division of Correction and the $612,000 guaranteed by Entegrity to the Division of Community Correction. The projects not only paid for themselves but also redirected funds back into the agency’s budget. Building on the success of the first phase, both divisions have approved second phases. The latest projects will include comprehensive upgrades covering the Tucker Unit, Tucker Max Unit, and Tucker Re-Entry Center as well as multi-megawatt solar installations for the Division of Correction and the Division of Community Correction.