The city of Paris in Logan County has selected Little Rock-based solar energy company Today’s Power Inc. (TPI) to build a 1.5-megawatt solar array on 8 acres in the city, according to a news release.
Groundbreaking on the array Thursday (Dec. 12) comes one day after an announcement to build the first array in the mid-South that will pair two solar technologies and include battery energy storage in northeast Arkansas.
The Paris array will include 4,900 panels and the installation is expected to be completed in summer 2020. It will be used to meet some of the energy demand in the western Arkansas city of about 3,400 people. Over the next 25 years, the array is expected to generate 70.75 million kilowatt-hours of solar energy. TPI will finance, operate and maintain 100% of the array, and under a 20-year contract, the city will purchase electricity the array generates at 4.68 cents per kilowatt-hour.
“What this means for the citizens of Paris is we have additional renewable energy that we are delivering to the community,” said Mayor Daniel Rogers. “I thought this would be good for economic development. Everyone is moving more toward green. If it is something that can help save the environment and save the city some money, it would be a great idea.”
Paris started to look into solar power more than two years ago, and Rogers said he spoke to several solar suppliers about the design and process. But purchasing a solar system didn’t seem feasible for a small city with minimal city employees.
“One company that we looked into required almost $3 million as an initial investment,” Rogers said. “Maybe that over a long-term course that would have saved money, but with financing and interest charges, I am not completely positive.”
The system is expected to reduce costs in part through preserving federal tax incentives for investments in solar arrays, the release shows. When asked how much the array will save the city over the 20-year contract, Jennah Denney, marketing and public relations coordinator for TPI, said the city is expected to save $68,387 annually. That would be $1.37 million over 20 years.
“We are proud to be a partner of the city of Paris with this addition of clean renewable energy to power their operations,” TPI President Michael Henderson said. “This project reflects the great vision and a true desire to modernize the image of the city of Paris by taking a giant step in sustainability, and we hope that this renewable resource will provide the city with economic stimulation and other long-term benefits for years to come.”
The array will be built near the city’s wastewater treatment plant and will add to the city’s existing portfolio of renewable energy as it already receives hydroelectric power.
TPI was established in November 2014 by Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. and is owned by the electric cooperatives.