|Select Economic and Energy Data†||Value||State Rank|
|Real Gross Domestic Product, per capita||$27,753||3rd lowest|
|Gasoline Price, per gallon||$2.67||4th lowest|
|Electricity Price, per kWh||7.71¢||17th lowest|
Arkansas has low gasoline prices, likely because of its proximity to the Gulf of Mexico, and below average electricity prices. Over 40 percent of the state’s electricity is generated from coal, which is wholly imported from Wyoming. Arkansas has one nuclear power plant, which provides about a quarter of the state’s electricity. Hydroelectric power plants in the White River Basin in the north, along the Arkansas River in central Arkansas, and in the Ouachita River Basin in the south provide hydroelectricity, Arkansas’ major renewable.
Despite small oil and coal deposits, Arkansas has substantial natural gas reserves. The state’s natural gas production currently accounts for about one percent of national output. Companies are beginning to extract small amounts of natural gas from coalbed methane deposits in Arkansas. Arkansas has the Fayetteville shale natural gas field, which is estimated to contain 20 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.[i]
Regulatory Impediments to Affordable Energy
Although affordable energy is a vital component of a healthy economy, regulations frequently increase energy costs. Regulations imposed in the name of reducing carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions are especially costly. Carbon dioxide is a natural byproduct of the combustion of all carbon-containing fuels, such as natural gas, petroleum, coal, wood, and other organic materials. Today, there is no cost-effective way to capture the carbon dioxide output of the combustion of these fuels, so any regulations that limit carbon dioxide emissions will either limit the use of natural gas, petroleum, and coal, or dramatically increase their prices.
Below are some facts about Arkansas’ regulatory environment that are likely to affect the cost of energy or the cost of using energy. Fortunately for the citizens of Arkansas, the state has not imposed many of the regulations that other states are imposing.
- Arkansas does not cap greenhouse gas emissions.
- Arkansas is not a member of a regional agreement to cap greenhouse gas emissions.
- Arkansas does not require utilities to sell a certain percentage of electricity from renewable sources.
- Arkansas does not require gasoline to be mixed with renewable fuels.
- Arkansas does not impose automobile fuel economy standards similar to California’s, which include attempts to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from new vehicles.
- Arkansas requires new residential and commercial buildings to meet energy efficiency standards. New buildings must meet an Arkansas-specific version of the 2003 International Energy Conservation Code.[ii] The IECC, developed by the International Code Council, is a model code that mandates certain energy efficiency standards. House Bill 1663, enacted in 2009, directed the Arkansas Energy Office to develop a plan to reduce energy use from 2008 levels in existing state-owned facilities larger than 20,000 square feet, by 20 percent by 2014 and 30 percent by 2017.[iii] New state buildings must also be at least ten percent more efficient than ASHRAE 90.1-2007.[iv] ASHRAE 90.1 is a model code that mandates certain energy efficiency standards, and is developed by the American Society of Heating and Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Engineers. The 2007 code is the most recent version.
- Arkansas does not impose state-based appliance efficiency standards.
- Arkansas does not allow utilities to “decouple” revenue from the sale of electricity and natural gas. Some states decouple revenue from actual sales, allowing utilities to increase their revenue by selling less electricity and natural gas.
† Data Sources: Real GDP per capita 2008: Bureau of Economic Analysis, News Release: GDP by State (June 2, 2009), http://www.bea.gov/newsreleases/regional/gdp_ state/gsp_newsrelease.htm; Unemployment: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Regional and State Employment and Unemployment–February 2010 (Mar. 10, 2010); Gasoline Prices: American Automobile Association, AAA Daily Fuel Gauge Report (Mar. 30, 2010); Electricity Prices: Energy Information Administration, Electric Power Monthly, Table 5.6.B., Average Retail Price of Electricity, (March 15, 2010), http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table5_6_b.html; Electricity Generation Data: Energy Information Administration, Electricity Generation 2009, http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epa/generation_state_mon.xls.
[i] OilShaleGas.com, What is the Fayetteville Shale Area Natural Gas Field?, http://oilshalegas.com/fayettevilleshale.html
[ii] Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, Arkansas Energy Code, http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=AR08R&re=1&ee=1.
[iii] An Act to Promote the Conservation of Energy and Natural Resources in Buildings Owned by Public Agencies and Institutions of Higher Education, H.B. 1663 (Ark. 2009), http://www.arkleg.state.ar.us/assembly/2009/R/Bills/HB1663.pdf.
[iv] Database of State Incentives for Renewables and Efficiency, Green Building Standards for State Facilities, http://www.dsireusa.org/incentives/incentive.cfm?Incentive_Code=AR07R&re=0&ee=1.