Today’s Power completes solar project, starts another in south Arkansas

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 596 views 

North Little Rock-based renewable energy company Today’s Power Inc. (TPI) recently completed two solar arrays with battery storage and broke ground on another solar panel system, all in south Arkansas.

The two 1.2-megawatt arrays were completed in Calhoun County for General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, a St. Petersburg, Fla.-based aerospace and defense corporation, and consist of more than 6,400 solar panels. Over the next 25 years, the arrays are expected to produce 91 million kilowatt-hours, offsetting the company’s carbon footprint by 64,341 metric tons. Two battery energy storage systems for Camden-based utility Ouachita Electric Cooperative Corp. (OECC) were coupled with the two arrays and have an output of 2.4-megawatts for two hours.

“Together with our partners TPI and OECC, we have found a solution for expanding our usage of renewable energy and attaining environmental sustainability,” said Eric Ellis, vice president of precision systems at General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems. “This project not only lowers cost, but more importantly, it positively impacts our employees, our community and the environment. This initiative is the foundation for future endeavors as we continue to reduce our operations’ carbon footprint.”

TPI designed the battery energy storage system to minimize the wholesale power costs of OECC while also increasing the resiliency of the grid for all OECC customers as the system will supplement its other distribution facilities, such as the Hampton substation, according to a news release.

“(General Dynamics) would operate on its own power during regular operations, and OECC would be able to monitor the delivery of electricity to substations and the battery energy storage facility,” said Mark Cayce, general manager for OECC. “This provides the co-op the opportunity to restore electricity in the event of an outage. This is quicker than traditional restoration, and because of our fiber connections, we can do this remotely.

“Being able to provide backup power will eventually be a requirement to provide reliability,” he added. “We don’t want to be in a situation where we have to cut off people or we’re short on generation. These issues will be taken out of the equation by the batteries.”

In Hampton, TPI and Hampton School District recently broke ground on a 770-kilowatt single-axis tracking array that will be built on 5 acres near Hampton High School. Hampton School District is the only public school district in Calhoun County and serves more than 600 students from the communities of Hampton, Harrell, Tinsman and Locust Bayou.

The array will be owned by TPI, which has a 20-year agreement with the school district, and all the energy from the array will be sold to the school district. It’s expected to produce more than 90% of the school district’s energy needs and generate about 1.24 million kilowatt-hours annually. OECC will provide the remaining energy needs of the school district.

“The Hampton City School District is proud to be part of a venture like this,” Superintendent Doug Worley said. “Seeing our community embrace solar power, our school board sought an innovative way to be fiscally responsible and respecting [of] our environment. As a cornerstone of the Hampton community, we saw this opportunity as a method to impact the lives of our students and the entire community.”

Construction of the 2,052-panel array will start in December and is expected to be completed late in the first quarter of 2021.

“This is yet another project in a region where solar power is widely installed that exemplifies solar’s ability for economic and environmental savings,” TPI President Michael Henderson said. “TPI is excited to partner with (Hampton School District) to help reduce costs so more of the school’s funds can go to educational purposes.”