About the Power Sector Opportunties Fact Sheet Series

This series of fact sheets aims to shed light on these opportunities by illustrating the CO₂ emissions-reduction potential from measures in a variety of states. For example, states could build off of existing initiatives like renewable portfolio standards, energy efficiency standards, and other policies as well as use tools like greater efficiency at coal plants, increased use of combined heat and power, and fuller utilization of unused capacity at natural gas plants. We show how emissions savings from these existing policies and infrastructure stack up against the reductions that could be required under forthcoming standards.


President Obama announced the first-ever National Climate Plan for the United States in June 2013. Under the plan, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will set carbon pollution standards for power plants. In September 2013, EPA introduced emissions standards for new power plants and is expected to announce standards for existing plants in 2014. Once EPA establishes those standards, states will develop and implement their own plans to achieve the necessary emissions reductions.

In this fact sheet, WRI examines how Arkansas can use its existing policies and infrastructure to reduce power plant emissions.

Executive Summary

WRI analysis finds that Arkansas can reduce its CO2 emissions 39 percent below 2011 levels by 2020. These reductions could meet moderately ambitious standards for existing power plants in the near- to medium-term.

CO2 reduction opportunities using available infrastructure include:

  • Increasing use of existing natural gas plants. Arkansas’ most efficient natural gas plants generated much less electricity than they were capable of producing in 2012. Running these plants at 75 percent can reduce CO2 emissions by 30 percent in 2020 compared to 2011 levels.

  • Using more combined heat and power (CHP). Arkansas can build more CHP systems at existing facili- ties—which use waste heat to generate electricity more efficiently than the average power plant—at sites like universities and farms. Increasing the use of CHP by 33 percent above 2012 levels can reduce CO2 emissions by 2 percent in 2020 compared to 2011 levels.

  • Increasing existing coal plant efficiency. Existing coal plants could save energy by upgrading their equipment and making other operational improvements. Increasing coal plant efficiency by 2.5 percent could reduce CO2 emissions by 1 percent in 2020 compared to 2011 levels.

CO2 reduction opportunities using clean energy include:

  • Meeting energy efficiency targets. The state’s energy efficiency standard requires investor-owned utilities to implement programs that help customers save energy. If all of Arkansas’ utilities meet the state’s 2015 savings goal each year going forward, the state can cut power sector CO2 emissions by 7 percent in 2020 compared to 2011 levels.

  • Increasing use of renewable energy. Arkansas has the opportunity to encourage further development of renewable resources, including wind and solar power, by implementing new strategies (e.g., tax credits or renewable energy standards). If 15 percent of the state’s electricity came from renewable sources by 2020, it could cut power sector CO2 emissions by 9 percent compared to 2011 levels.