Entergy Arkansas announced Monday (Aug. 17) plans to purchase a 900-acre, 100-megawatt solar farm near Brinkley. Pending approval by the Arkansas Public Service Commission, Walnut Bend Solar will be among the largest solar generating facilities in the state.
Walnut Bend will provide approximately 200 jobs during the construction phase, then 2-3 full-time employees once operational. The facility will generate an estimated $700,000 in annual property taxes for Lee County.
Walnut Bend will be located east of U.S. Highway 49 and south of Interstate 40 in Lee County, south of Lee County Road 922 (Mt. Jordan Road) near the intersection with County Road 947. Construction is scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2021, and Walnut Bend Solar should be providing power to Entergy Arkansas customers by the end of 2022.
“Entergy Arkansas is the solar leader in the Natural State,” said Entergy Arkansas President and CEO Laura Landreaux. “Utility-scale solar generation is the future of economic solar power in Arkansas. Walnut Bend will be a valuable addition to our solar fleet, which, in turn, complements our diverse mix of generation sources that have been powering life in Arkansas for 107 years now. Carefully managing our resources is how we keep rates relatively low in Arkansas, which is essential to the continued economic growth of our state.”
Walnut Bend will be the fourth Entergy Arkansas solar resource generating renewable, emission-free solar power for Entergy Arkansas’ customers. The other resources include 81-megawatt Stuttgart Solar, in operation since 2017; 100-megawatt Chicot Solar at Lake Village, which will go online this fall; and a 100-megawatt Searcy Solar facility, which is currently under development and will be completed in 2021 and purchased by Entergy Arkansas after its construction. The four resources combined will generate 381 megawatts of power for Entergy Arkansas customers, enough to power about 61,000 homes. Total investment is more than $300 million, with net customer benefits of more than $170 million over the life of the facilities.
Walnut Bend will be designed and built by Invenergy Renewables, LLC, and, upon completion, will be purchased by Entergy Arkansas. Invenergy is a privately held global developer and operator of sustainable energy solutions. The company has developed 158 projects across four continents to generate 24,500 megawatts of power.
The solar panels will feature relatively new technology: bifacial solar panels. Most solar panels generate electricity with photovoltaic cells on only the top side — the sunny side – of the panels. Bifacial panels have photovoltaic cells on the top and bottom sides of the panel. The ones on the bottom catch sunlight reflected from the ground, increasing the amount of electricity generated per panel.
The site in Lee County covers 900 acres. How big is 900 acres? The Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville covers about 14 acres. So about 64 Razorback Stadiums would fit inside the Walnut Bend footprint, according to Energy.
Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 700,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Arkansas is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR), an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including nearly 9,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of $11 billion and approximately 13,600 employees.