Fayetteville: Pryor: State Short of Wind Power
BY TRACIE DUNGAN
Arkansans scouting for alternative energy sources might need to buy wind-harnessed energy from elsewhere until new technologies are developed that would maximize homegrown use, Sen. Mark Pryor said Friday.
New technology likely will be needed before the Natural State can fully harness the wind as a few other states have, said Pryor, D-Ark., the first speaker Friday during the first Fayetteville Sustainability Summit.
"Wind energy is great we should have done wind energy years ago," he said.
"But the problem for Arkansas is: We don't have enough wind," Pryor said.
He was drawing a comparison with windier Plains states. The U. S. Department of Energy has mapped most parts of Arkansas toward the low end of a wind suitability scale.
So until new technology equalizes the playing field, "that means we may have to buy our wind energy from other states," Pryor said.
A Kansas company is plan- ning a 100-turbine wind farm in Benton County it contends would power up to 40, 000 homes.
Likewise, Pryor continued during Friday's talk, current geothermal energy technology won't work as well in Fayetteville as in southern parts of Arkansas.
"You have to remember that a one-size-fits-all approach won't work," Pryor said.
Last month, a panel of experts advised congressional lawmakers assembling an energy policy that a broad plan with a variety of energy approaches would be best for the United States. These include approaches and incentives for biofuels and more nuclear plants, solar power and wind power to wean the country off foreign oil.
Pryor said two primary approaches the nation might consider to reduce greenhouse gas emissions are a carbon tax and a "cap and trade" system.
With such a system, largescale emitters are assigned emissions permits per ton of carbon dioxide released. More efficient companies who don't need all their permits can sell their extras to companies unable to easily meet their limits.
Throughout Friday's day-long conference, members of the public and business people heard about topics ranging from how to support more local produce versus imported, to the Masdar City project an effort to design the world's first carbonneutral city in the United Arab Emirates.
They also heard from executives with Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and McKee Foods on how those Arkansas companies have found ways to reduce their carbon footprints, from University of Arkansas at Fayetteville faculty on topics such as the economic and environmental potential of light rail, and from the mayor of Austin, Texas, on how his city is going green.
Mayor Will Wynn said his rapidly growing capital city of Austin is regarded as a liberal enclave in an extremely politically conservative state. He drew parallels to Fayetteville, such as the cities' attractive appearance, cleanliness, safety and the presence of research universities.
The time to reduce consumption is now, before even more growth arrives, he said.
"It is irresponsible not to plan for sustainability now, when you know the growth is coming," Winn said.
Marquette Addison of Fayetteville attended most of the conference's speeches and breakout sessions Friday, hearing everything from Pryor's talk to the Wal-Mart and UA presentations.
"What I find is there's a big gap between academia, the politicians and the public," said Addison, who is particularly concerned with organic foods. The workshop educated her primarily regarding what people and companies in the Fayetteville area are doing for the planet, she said.
"It's comforting to me that corporate America is seeing that environmentally safe products improve their bottom line," Addison said.