Electric companies push awareness in winter weather's path


The state’s two largest electric utilities urged customers to be prepared for a winter storm that blanketed many parts of Arkansas with ice, while warning that outages in some parts of the state could last up to seven days.

PSC chair to head national utility commissioners group

Colette Honorable, chairman of the Arkansas Public Service Commission, has been named President of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. Founded in 1889, NARUC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to representing the state public service commissions that regulate utilities that provide essential services such as energy, telecommunications, water and transportation.

Entergy Arkansas, the state’s largest electric utility, mobilized nearly 8,000 workers to do preventative and repair work for damage expected from the ice storm. The Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas secured assistance agreements with independent contractors and mutual aid arrangements with electric cooperatives both within Arkansas and surrounding states to help with potential outages and repairs.

Broadband groups sending recommendations to governor

The ambitious effort to expand broadband capability in Arkansas public schools moved forward on Tuesday as two working groups accepted an engineering report and recommended the state proceed with a potential public-private partnership.

Administration and industry officials have been working on a plan to boost the state’s public schools to a nationally recommended broadband capability of 100 Mbps per 1,000 students and staff. The average Arkansas school district with 1,800 students currently has 40 Mbps of bandwidth and needs at least 140 Mbps more, according to an earlier Department of Information Services report. Industry leaders dispute that assumption.

Arkansas November tax revenues below forecast

Individual and corporate income taxes as well as sales tax collections were all lower than forecast in November, but year-to-date net revenues for the state are still 3.5 percent above last year’s levels and 1.5 percent above forecast.

Year-to-date net available general revenues totaled $2.043 billion, a $69.6 million bump over last year’s five-month total. Net revenues for the year are above forecast by $29.4 million. Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration officials said in November that a big swing in the volatile corporate income tax category was a major contributor to the lower numbers.

Delta Regional Authority invests $250,000 in Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub

The Delta Regional Authority announced a $251,105 award for facilities and operations for the Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub on Monday.

Launched in July, the Innovation Hub is a nonprofit organization in downtown North Little Rock dedicated to increasing entrepreneurial activity in Arkansas. It will house three inter-connected ventures that will work together to provide education, training, prototyping and start-up and entrepreneurial opportunities.

AG McDaniel pools deseg data for public review

Fresh off the announcement last week that a deal has been struck to settle a three decades-old school desegregation lawsuit, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel (D) announced a clearinghouse of information related to the case is available on his office’s website. Information regarding the proposed Pulaski County desegregation settlement and notice of a Jan. 13 fairness hearing have been posted to www.ArkansasAG.gov.

State chamber chief hopes immigration reform poll data persuades congress

Randy Zook, CEO of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce, tells the Arkansas News Bureau that new polling data from Republican-leaning congressional districts nationwide could persuade federal leaders to tackle comprehensive immigration reform. Currently, immigration reform is stalled in the U.S. House.

Basswood Research interviewed a total of 1,000 likely voters on Nov. 2-3 in congressional districts in California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, Ohio and Pennsylvania. The poll found that across the sample group, 78 percent said they supported the comprehensive immigration reform bill known as the Dream Act and 16 percent said they opposed it.

Roby Brock, a freelance journalist based in Little Rock, writes weekly for the Arkansas News Bureau. His weekly television program airs at 10 p.m. Sundays in Central and Northwest Arkansas. His email address is roby@talkbusiness.net; his website address is www.talkbusiness.net