CW&L Invests in Region 8 Economy

October 31, 2006 - Posted at 5:21 p.m. CST

JONESBORO, AR -- Jonesboro's City, Water and Light base electric rates haven't changed since 1984.  The board appropriated management to buy into coal-fired generation plants in the late 70's and again in the mid 90's....allowing CW&L to generate its own electricity.

Owning its own generation has helped keep rates low and attracted new industry and helped CW&L develop big plans for Region 8.

"The fact that our rates are so low, it actually saves our customers $20 million dollars a year in electric bill payments.  That $20 million dollars that would normally go to pay for electricity bills, instead, folks are able to spend it on the local economy which helps local business and local industries," said CW&L Special Projects Administrator Kevan Imboden.

And when it comes to economic development, CW&L doesn't stop there.  Eighty acres within the technology park and another 480 adjacent just became CW&L property....with the intent of the Jonesboro Economic Development Corporation to purchase over the next 15 years.

"The advantage to our customers, our rate payers is with that property being so close to our existing industrial park, it's going to save us potentially millions of dollars in potential utility extensions that we would have had to made to go to another sight," said Imboden.

And if CW&L has its way, the investment is just one for the future.

"From a community standpoint, it's going to give us future industrial sights, so as industries come and look at Jonesboro and have property available and we will be able to get more Nestles, more Frito Lays and create potentially hundreds, if not thousands of jobs through utilization of this property," said Imboden.

And the price tag of nearly $4 million dollars for the land seems like change when you consider the return.

"We've tried to go out and put in the infrastructure, buy the property and have those sights available so that when an industry comes to Jonesboro to look at our community, we have that property there and they can see that because a lot of times the industries that we deal with are under a time crunch," said Imboden.

CW&L is also considering buying into a coal-fired power plant in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.  They hope their next generation to come on-line by 2011.