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Grant for Arkansas Solar Power Actually Bigger Than Announced

2 min read

Arkansas will be getting more money than expected from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Solar for All program: $93.6 million as opposed to the $62 million the EPA originally announced.

The federal grant is a strategic economic investment in the Hope Enterprise Corp. of Jackson, Mississippi, which partnered with the Arkansas Advanced Energy Foundation of Little Rock to employ rooftop solar power for the benefit of rural Arkansans and contribute to the state’s energy independence.

Lauren Waldrip, executive director of the AAEF and the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association, flagged the EPA’s correction to Arkansas Business. “We are getting $92 million for Solar for All,” rather than the originally reported $62 million, Waldrip said. 

Hope, a community development financial institution, has three program offices in Arkansas, and has been operating in the state since 1995.

“HOPE’s mission is to strengthen the financial health and wealth of people in under-resourced Deep South communities,” the AAEF said in a news release.

Hope CEO Bill Bynum said Solar for All could be a transformational opportunity for communities in the South by helping promote rooftop solar power and energize companies that install arrays.

 “Not only will people in historically under-resourced areas realize savings from lower energy costs, they will also benefit from the jobs created to extend solar power into homes and community facilities,” Bynum said in the release. “We look forward to working with EPA to advance a cleaner, more sustainable environment.”

Waldrip called the grant a significant economic opportunity for Arkansas, especially in rural areas where energy costs are burdensome.

“By bringing these federal dollars back to our state, we are not only investing in our energy infrastructure but also in the economic well-being of our rural communities,” she said. “This program will help us address the urgent need for more power generation and the deployment of distributed energy resources, which are essential for serving our rural areas effectively.”

The foundation’s role will be focusing on workforce development, creating strong jobs in the solar industry and building a robust market for it in Arkansas.

“AAEF will also convene stakeholders, including government entities, solar providers, and community organizations, to ensure the program’s success and equitable access to its benefits,” the release said.

“Arkansas stands at a pivotal moment to diversify and secure our energy portfolio, and ultimately enhance our energy independence and economic stability for our most vulnerable populations,” Waldrip said. “This is an opportunity for policy makers to reflect on Arkansas’s current regulatory environment and hopefully make revisions that will allow our state to capitalize on this and other programs.”

Hope expects to “provide immediate financial relief to low-income households” and also contribute to long-term economic stability and growth, the AAEF said.


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