Radio Column

Asa Arkansas's Governor

Energy in Arkansas

10/14/2016

Column Transcript

This week, Arkansas watched and stood ready to assist as Hurricane Matthew took a toll on our nation’s eastern coast. We were saddened to hear of the devastating loss of life, destruction of property, and hardship for the communities impacted by the storm. Hurricane Matthew caused damage from Florida to Georgia to the Carolinas, including widespread power outages for about 2.2 million households.

But disaster relief crews from across Arkansas were ready to help. Most people run from hurricanes; but one Arkansas energy company ran towards Hurricane Matthew, providing assistance and relief to areas affected by the power outages. This week, Entergy Arkansas sent 70 servicemen to the east coast to help Florence, South Carolina turn the lights back on.

The devastation of 2.2 million homes suffering power outages demonstrates just how fundamental reliable energy is in protecting the health and safety of Americans. A sustainable and diverse energy supply powers our industry, transportation and way of life.

As the Chairman of Southern States Energy Board and the Chairman of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, I recognize just how critical the effective supply of reliable, affordable energy is for our state and our nation.

In recent history, our nation has emerged from an energy importing country to the world’s largest oil supplier, exceeding Saudi Arabia and Russia. Unconventional natural gas drilling has opened up such a large resource base that prices are affordable and supplies have created an enormous potential export market. Just last year, Arkansas had the nation’s seventh lowest average electricity prices at about 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. Today, in the West South Central Region of the U.S., which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas, residential electricity prices are averaging just over 10 cents per kilowatt-hour.

This just goes to show how important the South’s role in the energy marketplace is. Five new nuclear power plants are being built in the region, meaning that the South will soon supply about 50% of the nation’s nuclear energy.

But the key factor in supplying energy resources for the benefit and security of our citizens is building diversity in our energy resources. Arkansas uses coal, natural gas, nuclear, solar and hydro as a balanced mix in our energy supply. Reliable and affordable energy of many different varieties enables states to pursue jobs and business development.

A state’s economic development is inextricably tied to the energy policies we pursue. This is why, in Arkansas, I emphasize state leadership for the protection of our energy industries and for the responsible regulation of one of our nation's most vital resources. Let’s continue working towards strong, state-led energy policies to benefit our communities, our state and our nation.