Southland Gin, Delta Farms, Craighead Electric Cooperative and Today’s Power Inc. (TPI) are working to develop a 2-megawatt solar energy system that will include two arrays with unique solar technologies and 6 megawatts of battery storage in northeast Arkansas.
The project comprises three systems on 14.59 acres in Bay, southeast of Jonesboro. It’s the first farm energy project in the mid-South to pair two solar technologies, fixed-tilt and single-axis tracking, and include on-site battery storage, according to TPI. Construction started in late November and is expected to be completed in March 2020. It will start to operate shortly after that. TPI declined to release the project cost.
Delta Farms will purchase and own the 1.2-megawatt fixed-tilt system. TPI will own the single-axis tracking solar array and battery storage and will operate both systems. Southland Gin will lease the output of the 882-kilowatt tracking system from TPI. The lease was possible as a result of Act 464, which state legislators approved earlier this year. When electricity generated by the arrays exceeds demand, the electricity will be net metered to the Craighead Electric system or stored in the on-site battery storage systems. The batteries will allow Craighead Electric to use the stored electricity during peak periods instead of having to purchase electricity to meet demand.
“It’s exciting to see a project like this that benefits all members of Craighead Electric,” said Brian Duncan, CEO of Craighead Electric. “The idea of storing power to use whenever you need it is an industry changing technology. At Craighead Electric Cooperative, we work together to enhance our members’ value, whether it be through renewable power resources or high-speed broadband internet. This initiative is an example of how utilities and major energy users, through creativity and partnership, are meeting the needs of the future.”
Plans for this project started when Delta Farms asked TPI to complete an analysis to determine if solar would be good for the farm. After TPI provided the results of the analysis, Southland Gin asked for a similar analysis. The arrays will not meet all the electricity demand of the farms as the system was designed to offset a portion of the demand, said Jennah Denney, marketing and public relations coordinator for TPI. It will build the arrays to the preference of Delta Farms with regard to the fixed-tilt systems as it will purchase this array.
“Our mission with solar has been to make a profitable and reliable investment,” said Len Nall of Delta Farms, “all the while reducing our carbon footprint and environmental impact.”
TPI worked with the city of Fayetteville and Ozarks Electric Cooperative to complete a 10-megawatt solar array with 24-megawatts of battery storage in July. The system was the first array in the mid-South to include battery storage, Denney said.
Also, TPI has been working with C&L Electric Cooperative to build a 1-megawatt solar array near the headquarters of the cooperative in Star City.