North Little Rock-based solar power developer Scenic Hill Solar will build a 12.75-megawatt solar power plant that will meet the energy demand for all government operations of the city of Hot Springs. The $20 million plant will be the largest municipal solar power plant in the state after a 10-megawatt solar plant started to provide electricity to the city of Fayetteville in July.
The plant in the city of more than 35,000 people is expected to save the city more than $30 million on electricity costs over the next 30 years, according to a news release. The Hot Springs Board of Directors on Tuesday (Sept. 17) approved the project, and construction on the plant is expected to be completed in a year. The project must receive regulatory approvals before construction can start, and the plant is expected to start operating six months after the approvals.
“This solar power initiative is a win-win for the city of Hot Springs as it aligns with our Green Initiatives and will have a dramatic positive impact on the city’s operating budgets for decades to come,” city manager Bill Burrough said. “The natural beauty of Hot Springs is something our community and visitors cherish, and this move to solar power is an example of how our municipality and others can move toward protecting our Natural State. We are thankful for Scenic Hill Solar and the partnership we have started.”
Scenic Hill Solar will own and operate solar power plants at multiple locations on land leased from the city of Hot Springs. The city will purchase power from the solar plant, based on a 28-year energy services agreement. Construction of the power plants will add almost $20 million of economic development for Hot Springs.
“We are delighted to partner with Hot Springs on this transformative set of investments in renewable energy,” said Bill Halter, CEO of Scenic Hill Solar. “We commend the leadership of Hot Springs for moving forward with vision and boldness to provide renewable electricity, reduce total taxpayer spending on electricity and stimulate local economic development through the construction of multiple power plants. This commitment to smart suitability is a big reason for companies to look to Hot Springs as a place to thrive.”
The plant, which will have more than 32,000 solar modules, will produce more than 19.4 million kilowatt-hours of electricity in the first year of operations and more than 539 million kilowatt-hours of electricity over the next 30 years. It will reduce carbon emissions by more than 381,000 metric tons, which equals 932 million fewer passenger car miles, eliminating the burning of more than 417 million pounds of coal and providing more than 45,000 homes with electricity for one year.