Ozarks Electric invests $8.8 million for HQ expansion

by Jeff Della Rosa (JDellaRosa@nwabj.com) 1,028 views 

Ozarks Electric Cooperative expects to complete a four-story, 38,000-square-foot office at its headquarters this fall. The office will accommodate growth of the company.

Fayetteville-based Ozarks Electric Cooperative is building a four-story, 38,000-square-foot office at its headquarters to accommodate growth in the electricity utility and its broadband service, OzarksGo. CEO Mitchell Johnson said the expansion, which will accommodate 103 employees, will allow 20 employees to relocate to its headquarters from leased office locations.

The 80-year-old company expects to invest about $8.8 million in the project, which is being built adjacent to the company’s existing 54,000-square-foot headquarters building at 3641 W. Wedington Drive. Construction on the building started in summer 2017 and is expected to be completed this fall, Johnson said. Ozarks Electric hopes to move in by the start of 2019.

Commerce Construction of Springdale is the contractor, and Rogers-based Crafton Tull, the architect.

In 2017, the number of utility customers increased 3%, and over the next five years, the company is expected to add 60 employees, Johnson said. The previous major expansion at its headquarters was in 2000, when the company served 49,500 customers with 150 employees. Now, the company serves 76,000 meters with 245 employees.

Along with its utility service, the company is working to bring fiber to all of its customers. The fiber will accommodate the OzarksGo service, which includes gigabit internet, TV and telephone services. It also will improve the speed at which the utility can identify power outages.

The expanded corporate office building will include technology to improve outage identification and resolve outages more quickly. The technology allows system operators to remotely restore electricity to customers via “self-healing switches” that can reroute power flow more quickly, Johnson said. The technology also offers oversight of 7,000 miles of distribution lines across Ozarks Electric’s 2,177-square-mile service area in Northwest Arkansas and northeast Oklahoma.