FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – The Applied Sustainability Center in the Sam M. Walton College of Business at the University of Arkansas is conducting four energy workshops for state legislators and legislative candidates in July and August.

The Energy, Jobs and the Economy workshops will explore the economic impact and job creation potential in Arkansas of the advanced energy sector, which includes energy efficiency, renewable energy and alternative fuels. The workshops are largely underwritten by the Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation and the Arkansas Energy Office. Participants pay a modest registration fee to offset the cost of lunch and workshop materials.

The workshops are being offered:

The benefits of the advanced energy sector to the Arkansas economy include cost savings for business and industry, increasing disposable income for households, job creation and enhanced energy security through energy conservation and diversification of the state’s energy portfolio.

“Arkansas’ existing advanced energy assets are being harnessed to diversify the state’s energy portfolio and drive economic growth for its companies,” said Steve Patterson, executive director of the Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation. “The advanced energy sector has demonstrated its great potential by outperforming the overall Arkansas economy since 2003. These workshops are an opportunity for policymakers and business leaders to examine what is and what can be in the advanced energy sector.”

Legislators and candidates will hear from panelists who represent companies that are active in the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association including electric and natural gas utilities, energy service companies such as Powers of Arkansas, solar energy companies, wind power transmission companies like Clean Line Energy Partners, biofuels manufacturers such as FutureFuel Chemical Company and others.

“The workshops will highlight energy success stories in Arkansas such as the establishment of energy improvement districts that create financing tools for commercial and industrial energy and water conservation projects.” said Michele Halsell, managing director of the center. “The ability to finance energy-related projects creates demand for services and stimulates job growth. Not only that, the firms that take advantage of this opportunity will improve their own financial position by reducing their utility expenses.”

Each workshop will include a tour of a workforce development center or a research facility to illustrate existing resources that can help position the state as a leader in the advanced energy sector.

The nonpartisan workshops are scheduled in July and August to allow candidates and officials of the Arkansas Legislature time to study the issue and learn first-hand how state policies are influencing positive job growth in the advanced energy sector.  “Participating in an Energy, Jobs and the Economy workshop will help to prepare legislators to enact energy policies that have a positive impact on the state’s economy,” Halsell said.

David Johnson, a Democrat from Little Rock representing Senate District 32, attended a workshop in 2012 when he was a candidate. “The Energy, Jobs and the Economy workshop gave me a chance to learn more about Arkansas’ energy resources and how these resources can keep Arkansas competitive,” Johnson said. “Hearing from the job creators, the business people who work in the advanced energy sector, gave me insight on policy ideas that can grow business, create jobs and save energy. I absolutely recommend the workshop to candidates in 2014. It’s time very well-spent.”

Debra Hobbs, a Republican from Rogers representing Arkansas House District 94, also plans to attend. “Energy is an ever-evolving industry that impacts our lives on many levels. It is extremely important that elected officials be informed in order to support smart policy for Arkansas’ future. Energy, Jobs and the Economy workshops offer excellent, practical, up-to-date material to position Arkansas to be on the energy cutting edge,” Hobbs said.

“Energy is something that we often take for granted,” Halsell said. “Advanced energy can be a source of new jobs and a source of economic strength for Arkansas. It’s everyone’s business.”

Rep. Deborah Ferguson, a Democrat from West Memphis, attended a 2012 workshop at Mid-South Community College. “The Energy, Jobs and the Economy workshop was very informative. I learned about the advanced energy industry in Arkansas, which was helpful to me when considering relevant legislation during the 2013 session,” Ferguson said. “This is an important sector of the Arkansas economy that continues to grow and create jobs, so I highly recommend that 2014 candidates find the time to attend one of this year’s workshops.”

Enrollment for the workshops is capped at 40 for each session. Early registration is encouraged. For more information or to register, call the Applied Sustainability Center at 479-575-3393 or visit the center’s website at asc.uark.edu.

The Applied Sustainability Center, established in 2007, is an interdisciplinary research and outreach center of the University of Arkansas housed in the Walton College. The center’s mission is to accelerate learning about sustainability and expand the commitment to sustainable practices in organizations and communities.

The Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation, a nonprofit organization, was established in 2011. The foundation, which operates exclusively for charitable and educational purposes, performs research, public education and economic and workforce development in support of its mission to create jobs and grow the advanced energy sector and Arkansas’ economy as a whole.

The Arkansas Energy Office, a division of the Arkansas Economic Development Commission, promotes energy efficiency and emerging technologies through energy education and information programs as well as managing federal energy funds in Arkansas.

Read the article at Arkansas Newswire.