Delta Solar completes off-site array to offset electricity use of Imperial Ice plant

by Jeff Della Rosa ([email protected]) 326 views 

Little Rock-based Delta Solar recently announced the completion of a 320-kilowatt solar array for Imperial Ice of Little Rock.

According to a news release, the array was designed to produce enough power to offset the energy usage of the packaged ice manufacturer and distributor’s plant in west Little Rock and is expected to save the family-owned business more than $857,000 in energy costs over the next 30 years.

“We are always eager to help Arkansas entrepreneurs explore the benefits of solar technologies to their operations,” said Douglas Hutchings, CEO of Delta Solar. “Every system is unique to our client’s needs, and we were pleased to work with Imperial Ice to design and construct a system that meets 100% of the company’s energy demand and generates savings to reinvest into their business.”

The array was built off-site in England, which is located in southwest Lonoke County.

“Electricity had been our largest cost, and we were looking at ways to lower that expense,” said Imperial Ice owner Mark Enderlin. “Solar was the right solution, but we didn’t have the room on our property to accommodate a system. Delta Solar provided an off-site location that allowed us to build an array and significantly lower our electric bill.”

The remote net-metering policy in Arkansas allows for flexibility in where a solar array can be located, the release shows. A system can be built anywhere within the customer’s same utility service territory, with the off-site meter running backward and the credits applied toward the primary meters. Entergy Arkansas is the electricity utility for Imperial Ice.

“Off-site arrays represent a small fraction of total solar energy systems built, but they are an extremely valuable tool enabled by Arkansas’ smart net-metering policies,” said Katie Niebaum, president of Delta Solar. “When land is not available, or the adjacent land is extremely valuable, then we identify land that works well with the utility to build the solar array. The savings are effectively identical or better since you are potentially using lower-value land for the solar array.”

In April 2021, Delta Solar announced a partnership with the city of England to acquire 12 acres of non-developable land to construct solar arrays for commercial, industrial and agricultural customers across the state. In return for using the land, Delta Solar provided the city of England with a 37-kilowatt array.

“Individual tracts of land are owned or leased by the solar customer depending on their preference,” Niebaum said. “In this case, Delta Solar owns the land and maintains the array, which is owned by a private investor that leases the system to Imperial Ice under a 20-year agreement. We anticipate the system delivering value for the next 50 years.”

The land off Arkansas Highway 165 can accommodate more than 2 megawatts of solar arrays.