Skip to main content

2014 Annual Report

Executive Summary

Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Cooperation

A Message from the Chief Executive Officer

Duane D. Highley
President and Chief Executive Officer

Reliable. Affordable. Responsible. These three words of our mission statement have taken on a new level of importance as we face and embrace new energy policy directions from our federal government. In some communities, the desire for new energy options is also coming from our distribution members and the members that they serve. Working for the benefit of members is not a new concept for electric cooperatives, but the challenge of transforming our energy supply portfolio while preserving reliability and affordability is new. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), in response to a Presidential directive, has issued a de facto national energy policy called the “Clean Power Plan”. Although the final outcome of this plan is not known at this time, it could possibly require the closure of many reliable, low-cost coal plants across the country and the immediate substitution of more natural gas-based generation. This substantial switch from one predominant base load fuel to another, over what is predicted to be a very short timeframe, will require a robust construction program in new gas plants, interstate gas pipelines and electric transmission lines.

In addition to coal-to-gas fuel substitution, utility compliance with the final Clean Power Plan will require increased commitment to carbon-free generation such as wind and solar, along with a greater emphasis on end-user energy efficiency. Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation’s (AECC) generation mix includes 201 megawatts of wind capacity, via 20-year purchased power agreements, a biomass plant in northwestern Arkansas, three run-of-the-river hydropower plants on the Arkansas River, and a partnership in regional Federal hydroelectric projects. We also have a plan to accommodate any distribution cooperative member that desires to develop a community solar project in its service territory. We have embraced the goal of growing the amount of solar capacity on our system in a fashion that is both economical and in tune with member desires and governmental policy.

With respect to energy efficiency, we continue to excel in our state and our industry in the commitment to teach, preach, and reach the households and businesses within the communities we serve that want to economically reduce energy usage and their total energy bill. To that end, several of our member cooperatives have launched an innovative energy efficiency program called H.E.L.P. (Home Energy Lending Program). In concert with our cooperative lending partners, such as CFC, CoBank and RUS, many residential cooperative members have been able to reduce their energy usage by as much as 25 percent through a residential retrofit and on-the-bill financing or repayment program. This program is designed to achieve the documentation requirements anticipated under the Clean Power Plan, resulting in what should be a win-win for both our members and our utility requirements. When something is good for members and also helps achieve our nation’s energy goals, it is a testament to the cooperative mission.

Whether it be 1949 when AECC was formed by and for our members, or 2015 when technology is poised to bring life to new dreams, AECC is on the front line of listening, planning, and working with its member cooperatives to continue to be relevant, timely, and valuable. It is the Cooperative Way.