Power leader wants better public schooling in Ark.

Associated Press Published: November 26, 2012

"Part of that is we are working with (the University of Arkansas at Little Rock) and other universities in the region, and within the entire state, to identify the specific skill sets needed and work to incorporate that within existing curriculum so that there would be a constant new source of talent coming available local," he said.

But the state did continue existing incentives for Southwest Power Pool, including a cash rebate equal to 3.9% of their new, annual payroll through 2015, said Arkansas Economic Development Commission spokesman Joe Holmes.

During his interview with AP last week, Brown also discussed what he sees next for Southwest Power Pool and the country's power industry.

He said ensuring adequate transmission lines is a long-term process, noting he recently returned from a groundbreaking for a new line at Medicine Lodge, Kan. He also believes the country needs "a true energy policy" that enables the U.S. to rely on a domestic supply.

Part of that would include renewal tax breaks for wind energy producers. Currently, wind-generated electricity comprises more than 10 percent of the juice on Southwest Power Pool's grid, with sources in western Kansas, Nebraska, Oklahoma and the Texas panhandle.

In the new year, retiring U.S. Rep. Mike Ross, who went to high school with Brown in Hope, will join SPP to be a liaison with legislatures and governor's offices in the nine states and deal with regulators.

"I'd seen a need in that area for many years," Brown said.

The executive said he would like to see utilities better emphasize the value consumers get from electricity. He noted that the average residential electric bill comes to about $5 a day, saying: "I don't have anything against Starbucks, but people will spend $5 on a cup of coffee, every day."