Solar projects to contribute economic impact in Arkansas

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 575 views 

Two solar array installers with Little Rock metro area offices have recently completed or started work on multiple solar power plants that are expected to provide a multimillion-dollar economic impact to the state amid a recession and global pandemic.

The city of Stuttgart and Little Rock-based Scenic Hill Solar broke ground Thursday (July 2) on the city’s first solar power plant. The 1.3-megawatt DC plant will produce enough electricity to meet 40% of demand for the city’s operations. The project includes a second phase to build a 1.85-megawatt DC plant and will be reviewed by the Arkansas Public Service Commission.

“We’re very delighted to see the fruition of more than a year’s worth of planning and development of this solar power plant,” Mayor David Earney said. “We’re at the forefront of a larger trend in the state of Arkansas and especially in our city of Stuttgart.

“The project will have a multi-million dollar benefit to Stuttgart and the region at a time when economic growth around the world is on life support,” he added.

“We are proud to partner with the city of Stuttgart to build solar power plants and advance the city’s economic and sustainability goals,” said Bill Halter, CEO of Scenic Hill Solar. “These solar power plants planned for the city will provide an over $5 million capital infusion for Stuttgart in an otherwise precarious global economy. With the approval of the Arkansas Public Service Commission, we are confident that the city of Stuttgart will become a city with one of the highest rates of renewable energy per capita in the nation.”

The 1.3-megawatt and 1.85-megawatt plants will have more than 7,000 solar panels and are expected to produce more than 5.43 million kilowatt-hours of electricity in the first year of operation. When both phases are completed, the plants are expected to meet all of the demand for the city’s operations.

Scenic Hill Solar also recently broke ground on a 1.3-megawatt DC solar plant for the Stuttgart School District and a 12.55-megawatt DC plant for the city of Hot Springs.

The Hot Springs project is expected to provide nearly $20 million of economic development to the city. It will contain more than 31,000 solar panels, produce more than 19 million kilowatt-hours in the first year of operation, and meet 100% of the city’s electricity demand.

“With the approval of the Arkansas Public Service Commission, these projects in total will be the largest completed to date for a municipality in the state of Arkansas,” Halter said. “As high unemployment and economic stresses continue, this project will bring jobs and economic activity to Hot Springs which has been hit hard by the worldwide pandemic.”

The school district project also includes a second phase for a 200-kilowatt plant. Combined, the two school district plants will comprise more than 3,700 modules and provide enough electricity to meet all of the school district’s power demand.

“The solar power plant will provide an over $2 million capital boost for Stuttgart during these very challenging economic conditions,” Halter said. “With the approval of the Arkansas Public Service Commission, we are confident that the Stuttgart School District will set a precedent that will benefit school districts across the state as they make the switch to clean energy.”

Meanwhile, North Little Rock-based Today’s Power Inc. recently announced it had completed a 100-kilowatt solar array for South Central Service Cooperative (SCSC), an education service cooperative. The array at the cooperative’s Camden office will supply nearly 99% of its energy consumption and include 324 panels, producing more than 185,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.

“We are excited to partner with SCSC as they fulfill their mission,” said Michael Henderson, president of Today’s Power. “Embracing leading-edge technology so all of their member schools receive benefits of lower cost and contributing to a cleaner environment is sending the right message to the 15,954 students they represent.”

Today’s Power recently relocated to 7300 Industry Drive in North Little Rock and will host a grand opening ceremony there at 10 a.m. July 14, said Jennah Denney, marketing and public relations coordinator for Today’s Power. It also has other announcements planned for next week.