NextEra Energy Resources begins construction on 100-megawatt solar plant near Lake Village

by Jeff Della Rosa (JDellaRosa@nwabj.com) 317 views 

NextEra Energy Resources LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc., and electricity utility Entergy Arkansas announced Monday (Dec. 2) the start of construction on the 100-megawatt Chicot Solar Energy Center in southeast Arkansas.

The $130 million center near Lake Village will be the largest universal, utility-scale solar energy project in Arkansas, according to a news release. It is expected to be completed in 2020 and will take about 11 months to build. When completed, it will be larger than the 81-megawatt Stuttgart Solar Energy Center, which was completed in 2018 as the largest universal solar energy project at the time.

“We are pleased that Entergy Arkansas and NextEra Energy Resources have partnered together to bring more solar power to the state,” said Gov. Asa Hutchinson. “Utility-scale solar keeps electric rates low, and the clean, renewable energy it provides can be a catalyst for economic growth. This project is great for southeast Arkansas and is yet another reason our future looks bright in the Natural State.”

The Chicot Solar Energy Center will be built on 825 acres in Chicot County. It will include about 350,000 photovoltaic solar panels and can generate enough power for more than 18,000 homes. A subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources is developing the project and will build, own and operate it. Entergy Arkansas will purchase all 100 megawatts of power the solar plant produces for its customers.

“Entergy Arkansas is already the largest solar provider in the state, and this project allows us to increase what we can provide for our customers,” said Laura Landreaux, president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas. “Large-scale, universal solar allows us to provide the benefits of renewable energy to all of our 700,000 customers at an economic price.”

The energy will serve Entergy Arkansas customers under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

“This project will bring good jobs, tax benefits and affordable, renewable energy to the state for decades to come,” said John Ketchum, president and CEO of NextEra Energy Resources. “We are pleased to continue to work with our partners at Entergy Arkansas to bring economic, renewable energy to customers and introduce another universal solar project of this scale in Arkansas.”

The project is expected to create up to 150 jobs during construction.

“The availability of cost-effective renewable energy resources provides an excellent economic development tool as we work to attract and retain businesses to Arkansas,” said Mike Preston, the secretary of the Arkansas Department of Commerce. “The construction of this utility-scale solar project will employ a number of individuals and will spur economic activity during construction. Low electricity rates are a significant benefit to economic development in Arkansas, and the solar facility in Chicot County will be an excellent addition to the state’s electric generation resources.”

Over its operational life, the Chicot Solar Energy Center is expected to generate nearly $7 million in additional revenue for Chicot County. Much of that will go to help Chicot County Public Schools.

NextEra Energy Resources and its affiliates comprise the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun. The company has nearly 21,000 megawatts of net generating capacity in 36 states and Canada.

Entergy Arkansas, a subsidiary of Entergy Corp., provides electricity to about 700,000 customers in 63 counties. It owns and operates power plants with about 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity. In March, Entergy Arkansas and NextEra Energy Resources announced plans to build a 100-megawatt solar energy plant in White County near Searcy. The project is pending approval by the Arkansas Public Service Commission.

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