After a pandemic hiatus in 2020, the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association is planning an in-person gathering next month for its ninth annual meeting and policy conference, set for Oct. 14 at Heifer International’s outdoor pavilion space.
Special safety guidelines are planned, but new association Executive Director Lauren Waldrip is eager to present emPOWER Arkansas, the state’s largest gathering of businesses and organizations in energy efficiency, biofuels, solar power, performance contracting and electric vehicles.
The crowd will also include customers like municipalities, school districts and farmers, as well as public officials and policymakers including Chairman Ted Thomas of the Arkansas Public Service Commission and Becky W. Keough, secretary of the Arkansas Department of Energy and Environment.
“The association has had a committee preparing for this event for a while, and I’m eager to get it across the finish line,” Waldrip told Arkansas Business; she took over as AAEA executive director on Sept. 1. “We didn’t have a chance to hold this meeting last year, so this will be an excellent opportunity for Chairman Thomas and Secretary Keough to bring our stakeholders up to speed.”
Panel discussions are planned on the electric vehicle movement, strategies in public-private partnerships and agricultural applications of advanced energy technologies.
“These are timely discussions in our industry,” Waldrip said.
The association and its educational foundation will also recognize industry leaders and celebrate its advancements with three annual awards: the Ron Bell Award to an individual with outstanding contributions to the advanced energy industry; the Rising Star Award to an individual making an early mark in the field; the Advanced Energy Innovation Award, which speaks for itself; and the Pioneer Award, destined for an individual who has shaped the industry.
The gathering will include a luncheon, the awards presentation and a trade show by sponsors. A networking reception will follow, with a virtual option available for those who want to participate digitally.
“In the ever-changing climate of advanced energy, it is imperative that all industry stakeholders come together regularly to ensure cohesion and continued progress,” said Lisa Perry, senior manager of energy services at Walmart Inc. and the association board’s event chair, who was quoted in a news release. “EmPOWER Arkansas provides an opportunity for valuable collaboration as well as insight to current and upcoming industry issues,” Perry said.
Event sponsorships will be available through Oct. 1, said Waldrip, former executive director of the Arkansas Rice Federation. Covid precautions at the gathering will include requests for participants to wear masks unless seated, as well as adherence to all local, state and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines.