Work to begin in March on 135-megawatt solar plant for Conway

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 882 views 

Construction is expected to start in March on a 135-megawatt solar farm that will provide electricity for Conway after solar energy company Lightsource bp closed on a $533 million financing package for multiple solar projects, according to a Wednesday (Jan. 12) news release.

Conway Solar will be built near Happy in White County and is one of the projects in Lightsource’s 480-megawatt financing package. Lightsource will build, own and maintain the solar farm that will generate solar energy for utility Conway Corp., which serves customers in the city of Conway. The farm will generate enough electricity to power more than 21,400 homes and reduce CO2 emissions equivalent to 35,400 fuel burning vehicles annually.

“Our mission is to provide safe, affordable, reliable, innovative and environmentally sound service to our customers,” said Bret Carroll, CEO of Conway Corp. “This solar project checks all those boxes. It is a project that will have lasting impact on our community. We look forward to working with Lightsource bp to get the project under construction and delivering service to our customers.”

The solar farm will be built on 700 acres near Happy, which is about 55 miles northeast of Little Rock, and is expected to be completed in mid-2023. According to the release, construction is expected to create about 200 construction jobs, and the majority will be filled by local workers. Lightsource selected Gibson Technical Services, a subsidiary of Orbital Energy Group, as the engineering, procurement and construction contractor of the photovoltaic solar plant.

“Orbital Energy Group recognizes Lightsource bp as a leading utility scale solar developer in the nation and appreciates the relationship we have established moving the Conway project to the construction phase,” said Jim O’Neil, vice president and CEO of Orbital Energy Group. “We fully expect to advance our partnership with Lightsource bp, safely completing this project on time and with quality workmanship.”

In April 2020, the Conway Corp. Board of Directors approved a 20-year power purchase agreement with Lightsource.

Over the past two years, Lightsource has raised more than $2.3 billion in financing for its projects in 10 states. Debt for the $533 million financing package was provided by HSBC Bank USA; ING Capital LLC; Intesa Sanpaolo S.p.A., New York Branch; NatWest; Societe Generale; and Standard Chartered Bank.

“Beyond improving the health and energy security of communities across America, large-scale solar projects help strengthen local economies,” said Kevin Smith, CEO of the Americas, Lightsource bp. “As the owner and operator of the Conway solar farm at Happy, we look forward to bringing economic benefits to the region, along with fostering long-term community partnerships.”