Arkansas Dept. of Corrections is adding two new solar arrays to properties

Entegrity has announced another energy efficiency project with the Arkansas Department of Corrections (DOC), which also includes a solar array. Since the DOC consumes roughly 6% of the state’s annual budget, any opportunity for savings is beneficial to taxpayers. Combined with the first phase of the efficiency project completed in 2019, this new plan will save the department more than $3.2 million per year in energy and operational savings.

“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 Asa Hutchinson. “The latest project from the now consolidated Department of Corrections is exactly the type of transformation we hoped to see. I applaud (DOC) Secretary Solomon Graves and (Dept. of Energy and Environment) Secretary Becky 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.

“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,” said Secretary Graves.

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. 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.

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 a 6.5 MW solar installation for the Division of Correction and a 2.5-MW solar array for the Division of Community Correction.

Chris Ladner, Entegrity’s founding partner, said, “We’re honored to continue our work in assisting the DOC improve performance and reduce waste. This project will create numerous short-term and longterm benefits that will benefit the agency and its facilities for decades to come.”

Implementation is expected to start at the beginning of 2021 and be substantially complete in early 2022.

The biggest differences between Phase 1 and Phase 2 are the SSAs made possible by the 2019 Solar Access Act (Act 464), which passed with near unanimous support in the Arkansas General Assembly. The SSA will involve zero debt and enables the agency to purchase clean energy that takes advantage of federal tax credits. Combined, the projects result in guaranteed savings of $3.2 million per year for Department.

Secretary Graves said, “We are eager to start this second phase. It is one of many steps we will take in the coming year to improve our outcomes and do our part to continue the transformation of state government.”

News item from DOC