Aerojet Rocketdyne will celebrate the groundbreaking of a 12-megawatt solar energy facility next week that will provide power to the fast-growing Highland Industrial Park in East Camden, company officials announced Friday (Sept. 4).
Aerojet Rocketdyne President and CEO Eileen Drake, along with Gov. Asa Hutchinson and other state and local dignitaries, will dedicate the state’s newest solar project along with nearly 200 federal, state and local representatives and Camden employees on Thursday, Sept. 10, at the company’s Arkansas operations on State Highway 274 in the South Arkansas city.
The East Camden defense contractor and Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. first announced the deal to build and manage what officials said at the time would be the largest solar field in Arkansas.
Under the terms of the deal, Nashville, Tenn.-based Silicon Ranch is the owner and operator of the solar facility that was built adjacent to Aerojet Rocketdyne’s 1,200-acre manufacturing and test facility in the expansive industrial park. There, Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of publicly traded GenCorp., produces propulsion motors for Lockheed Martin’s Patriot missile system in the industrial park.
Aerojet Rocketdyne is significantly expanding its Camden operations and adding an estimated 85 jobs in the area, officials said. Funding and job training for the project was supported by the state of Arkansas, and Calhoun and Ouachita counties.
According to company officials, the project’s construction phase supported between 250 and 350 direct and indirect jobs, with a financial impact of more than $25 million, officials said.
The East Camden project is one of many renewable energy projects that are being developed across the state in the solar, wind and biomass sectors. In April, Entergy Arkansas announced plans to build an 81-megawatt photovoltaic solar energy generating facility in Arkansas County. That emissions-free solar energy facility is not expected to be connected to Entergy Arkansas’ transmission grid until the end of the decade.
If approved by the state Public Service Commission, it would surpass the Camden solar project in size.