The Arkansas Public Service Commission earlier this week approved a new utility-scale solar project that will provide Entergy Arkansas customers with 100 megawatts of solar power and 10 megawatts of battery storage for when the sun does not shine.
The Searcy Solar project in White County will be the largest utility-owned solar project in the state and the first to feature battery storage. It was first announced in March 2019.
When completed in 2021, it will be the third project generating solar energy for Entergy Arkansas’ customers, bringing the total of solar energy to 281 megawatts covering more than 2,000 acres – enough to power about 45,000 homes. The Stuttgart Solar Energy Center has been producing 81 megawatts of solar energy since 2018, and Chicot Solar, under construction near Lake Village, will provide 100 megawatts of solar power when it comes online later this year.
“Entergy Arkansas is proud to be leading the charge in expanding solar power in our state, and we are committed to meeting our customers’ energy needs reliably, affordably and safely as we have done for over 100 years,” said Laura Landreaux, president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas. “Large-scale solar facilities provide the most cost-effective solar power for all customers, keeping rates low while delivering the best value for renewables in Arkansas.”
The Searcy Solar project will be built on approximately 800 acres east of Eastline Road (US 67, Exit 44) in Searcy and will include a 10-megawatt array of lithium-ion batteries capable of storing up to 30 MW hours of electricity, which is expected to be charged and discharged daily to maximize the value of the solar energy for the benefit of customers.
The Searcy Solar facility will bring 200 temporary construction jobs and two or three permanent jobs, along with periodic maintenance workers. It also will provide about $700,000 in annual property taxes as well as environmental benefits through emissions-free energy.
State officials highlighted the solar project as a major asset for economic development and recruiting.
“This large solar facility will be a very effective economic development tool as we work to attract new employers and retain our existing businesses. Many corporations have renewable energy and sustainability objectives,” said Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. “This facility, combined with Entergy’s other large solar facilities in Arkansas, will help us strengthen and grow the state’s economy.”
Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 700,000 customers in 63 counties.