Entergy Arkansas reveals plans for state’s largest solar project in the Delta

by Wesley Brown ([email protected]) 2,629 views 

Entergy Arkansas will expand its renewable energy portfolio with plans for a new solar project in the state’s Delta region that will be the largest sun-powered development in Arkansas, company officials told Talk Business & Politics.

According to the utility giant’s recent petition to the Arkansas Public Service Commission (PSC), Entergy Arkansas is seeking a declaratory order and approval of a power purchase agreement for a new renewable solar resource and for recovery of an additional amount. Company spokeswoman Kerri Jackson said the company’s Oct. 17 petition is requesting approval of the Chicot Solar project, a planned 100 megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic project near Lake Village.

“That’s enough power generation for roughly 16,000 homes,” Jackson said.

If approved by state regulatory officials, Juno Beach, Fla.-based NextEra Energy Resources LLC would develop the solar facility and provide all the energy and environmental attributes, including all renewable energy credits available from the project. Entergy Arkansas would then purchase the power from NextEra, one of the country’s largest solar energy providers and owner of utility giant Florida Power & Light. Jackson said the project is structured similarly to the Stuttgart Solar project first approved by the PSC in September 2015.

Entergy Arkansas and NextEra officials held the groundbreaking ceremony Monday (Oct. 30) for that project located seven miles southeast of Stuttgart on 475 acres. Construction is expected to be complete in early 2018. Once complete, the facility will feature more than 350,000 photovoltaic solar panels that convert the sun’s energy into electricity.

South Arkansas community leaders and economic development officials said the project will create an economic boost for Arkansas County, creating up to 250 jobs during the construction phase. Over its operational life, the Stuttgart Solar Energy Center is expected to generate nearly $8 million in additional revenue for Arkansas County, with much of that funding going to help Arkansas County Public Schools.

For the Chicot project, Entergy Arkansas officials have requested the PSC enter a protective order of non-disclosure. Such an order would protect competitively sensitive negotiated contract prices and other protected proprietary and competitive and financial information that “would impair the public interest due to the effect that this disclosure would have on the company’s costs and future operations,” Entergy’s PSC petition states.

According to Arkansas Sierra Club Director Glen Hooks, Entergy’s new 100-megawatt project would be the largest solar project in the state, bypassing the Stuttgart field and Aeroject Rocketdyne’s 12-megawatt facility at the Highland Industrial Park in East Camden.

Little Rock-based Scenic Hill Solar is also developing a $10 million solar power facility in Clarksville that will generate 6.5 megawatts of power. That facility is expected to be on-line by mid-2018. Scenic Hill, owned by former Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, will build, own and operate the plant on land leased from Clarksville Light & Water Company. The city utility will then purchase the solar plant’s power based on the terms of a 30-year contract.

Following are other recent solar projects in Arkansas.
• Scenic Hill and L’Oréal USA also opened in April a solar panel project that will help power the North Little Rock manufacturing plant. The 3,528 solar panels were installed earlier this year and will provide 1.2 MW of renewable energy to the factory that is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 556 metric tons per year.

• Ouachita Electric Cooperative of Camden announced in February a partnership with Today’s Power to build a 1-megawatt solar facility on 10 acres in Holly Springs, Ark. Today’s Power, a subsidiary of Little Rock-based Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, distributes and installs TKS photovoltaic systems. The project is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2017 and will include an array of 4,080 panels, encompassing 5.5 acres. The facility could provide enough electricity to power up to 250 homes. OEC members who purchase solar power generated by the facility can receive credit on their electric bills. OEC provides electric service to 9,400 meters across Ouachita, Calhoun, Dallas, Bradley and Nevada counties.

• Husqvarna Group is building its first solar power generating facility at its injection molding site in Nashville. Construction on the project, which is expected to have a generating capacity of 1.3 megawatts of solar power, is underway and projected to be operational by the end of the year. Company officials said the solar generating system has the potential to be expanded, and will reduce the company’s carbon footprint by approximately 1,000 tons in the first year of operation and approximately 25,000 tons over the expected 25-year life of the facility.

In a recent presentation at the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association’s (AAEA) annual meeting in Little Rock, officials with grid operators Southwest Power Pool and Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) noted that Arkansas’ renewable energy generation is nearly 20% of the state’s power production capabilities.