Wesley Brown/ Talk Business & Politics

Wesley Brown is the Business Editor for Talk Business & Politics. He can be reached by email at wesbrocomm@gmail.com or follow him on Twitter @BrownOnBusiness.

Power Lines
commons.wikimedia.org

Thanks to a multimillion dollar award from the U.S. Department of Energy, the University of Arkansas will lead a new national center that will focus on upgrading and protecting the nation’s energy grid from cyber-attacks.

University officials said the new educational venture is made possible by a $12.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, augmented by $3.3 million in matching funds from research partners.

Arkansas Nuclear One
www.entergy-nuclear.com

U.S. nuclear power plants showed marked improvements in performance this summer and saw outages fall to the lowest level ever recorded in early August since federal regulators began collecting such data in 2007, according to a new report by the U.S. Energy Information Administration.

Governor asa hutchinson military
Michael Hibblen / KUAR News

Exactly a week after Gov. Asa Hutchinson unveiled a new initiative to woo more military jobs and spending to the state, the Pentagon on Monday (Sept. 28) released a comprehensive report showing Arkansas ranked near the bottom out of all 50 states in national defense spending in fiscal 2014.

Manufacturing and farming giant Caterpillar Inc., which operates a large motor grader plant in North Little Rock with several hundred workers, announced a major across-the-board restructuring and cost reduction Thursday (Sept. 24) that could possibly affect more than 10,000 employees across the company’s expansive U.S. and international operations.

Just over a week after the Department of Energy (DOE) staff provided an update on the status of the controversial Plains & Eastern Clean Line Transmission development, Arkansas’ congressional delegation fired off a letter Tuesday (Sept. 15) to Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz asking him to address state’s rights concern over the DOE’s oversight of the multi-state, renewable energy project.

The Little Rock Technology Park Authority on Wednesday unanimously approved a measure giving Executive Director Brent Birch the power to negotiate a deal to hire East Harding Inc. as the construction manager for the first phase of the $30 million downtown tech park development.

After a dismal fiscal 2015, Australian mining giant BHP Billiton has unveiled plans to essentially mothball the company’s drilling operations in the Fayetteville and Haynesville dry-gas shale plays until commodity prices rebound in the future.

In its recently released results for the fiscal year 2015, which ended June 30, BHP reported earnings from continuing operations of $1.30 per American Depositary shares (ADS), down $74.5% from $5.11 per ADS a year ago. Revenues for full-year fiscal 2015 totaled $44.6 billion, down 21.4% from $56.8 billion in the year-ago period.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently announced that telecom carriers in Arkansas will receive more than $54 million from the Connect America Fund to provide broadband services in rural and remote areas of the state with little or no high-speed Internet access.

This is the second phase of funding through the federal program created in 2011 under the Universal Service Fund, the controversial federal subsidy program established by the 1996 Telecom Act to promote universal access to telecommunications services in rural and remote areas.

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle JLTV
Jacob Kauffman / KUAR News

Anticipation is building with an announcement expected soon about where the next generation of military combat vehicle will be built.

Last week, Arkansas Economic Development Commission executive director Mike Preston revealed that the U.S. Department of Defense has told him the award of the highly-coveted Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) will be announced on one of the next three Fridays – Aug. 28, Sept. 4, or Sept. 11.

Natural Gas Drilling Mt. Vernon in Faulkner County
Arkansas Times

Arkansas severance tax collections tumbled nearly 59% in the first month of state’s fiscal year 2016 as Fayetteville Shale drillers were unable to sustain production levels due to continued weak natural gas prices, spending cuts and fewer operating rigs.

According to monthly tax data compiled by the Revenue Division of the Arkansas Department of Finance & Administration, state tax revenue for natural gas production in July (the first month of fiscal 2016) came in at $3.48 million, compared to $8.4 million a year ago.

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