A few weeks ago, a quiet announcement was made to distribute $2 million in energy grants to various outlets across Arkansas.

For the better part of four years, environmentalists, business interests, energy companies and regulators wrangled over an enormous power plant project in southwest Arkansas.

That project was the $1.7 billion John W. Turk plant in Hempstead County near Hope. After lawsuits and regulatory obstacles, adversaries in the fight decided to settle their differences almost a full year ago.

One of the outcomes of that settlement was that SWEPCO, the majority owner of the Turk plant, would have to provide $2 million to support clean energy and energy efficiency policy efforts in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas and Louisiana.

In November, the details of that portion of the settlement were outlined by the Arkansas Community Foundation, which is handling the distribution of the funds. Heather Larkin, CEO of the Arkansas Community Foundation, the $150 million statewide non-profit in charge of the funds' distribution explains.

“A small piece of the settlement came to the Community Foundation so that the money could be granted back out to a four-state region for renewable energy and renewable energy sources,” she said.

The $2 million in grants will go to colleges, energy and economic development alliances, policy foundations, and sustainability networks.

Larkin says there were several factors that were considered by a panel which awarded the grants including:

The potential to benefit sustainable energy policy; innovation and creativity, evidence of cooperation or collaboration with other organizations working in the same field; and local financial support and the likelihood of future support for a project or program.

To learn more about this initiative, visit the Arkansas Community Foundation web site at www.arcf.org.

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