Entergy Arkansas receives approval for 250-megawatt solar farm near Osceola

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 1,340 views 

Entergy Arkansas, a utility of New Orleans-based Entergy Corp., has received regulatory approval for a 250-megawatt solar farm near Osceola in Mississippi County, according to a Tuesday (Oct. 4) news release. The nearly 2,100-acre farm will be capable of generating enough energy to power more than 40,000 homes.

The Driver Solar farm will be Entergy Arkansas’ largest solar facility and is expected to help U.S. Steel Corp. meet its sustainability goals, the release shows.

The Arkansas Public Service Commission approved the farm to be built along Arkansas Highway 61 near Carson Lake Road and Arkansas Highway 198. It will be adjacent to U.S. Steel’s Big River Steel facility and the planned $3 billion expansion. Lightsource bp will build the solar farm that’s expected to be completed in late 2024.

“Driver Solar adds highly economic, renewable generation to our portfolio, further diversifying our energy mix in a way that meets our customers’ evolving expectations,” said Laura Landreaux, president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas. “It is a key contribution toward business expansion in northeast Arkansas, and we are excited to be a part of it.

“We are listening to our customers as we develop and execute our generation strategy for the future,” she added. “We are privileged to be able to work closely with U.S. Steel Corp. to develop sustainable solutions to help them meet their objective of producing steel using renewable electricity while simultaneously lowering rates over the long term for all 728,000-plus Entergy Arkansas customers.”

Richard Fruehauf, senior vice president, chief strategy and sustainability officer for U.S. Steel, said “This project with Entergy Arkansas and Lightsource bp illustrates the importance of partnerships. Driver Solar not only helps us meet our robust sustainability goals, but it will also help us deliver sustainable steel solutions for our customers. The renewable energy generated will power the production of verdeX, our advanced sustainable steel product, which is composed of up to 90% recycled steel content, as well as other products produced at our Big River Works facility.”

The project’s construction phase is expected to create between 350 and 400 jobs. After the farm is completed, Entergy Arkansas will employ outside services for maintenance, such as land management and vegetation control, operations, office rent and team payroll. Company officials said that the project is expected to indirectly benefit area businesses, including restaurants and stores, during the construction phase.

Property taxes associated with Entergy Arkansas’ ownership of the project are estimated to average about $1.2 million for Mississippi County annually or about $36 million over 30 years.

According to the release, the Driver Solar farm will use First Solar modules, or panels, that are manufactured in Ohio. Along with the modules provided by Tempe, Ariz.-based First Solar, the solar farm will be built with solar trackers manufactured by Albuquerque, N.M.-based Array Technologies. Also, the farm will host two Monarch butterfly habitat areas to exceed 70 acres.

“The Driver Solar project is another demonstration of how solar can power our country’s industry with cost-competitive, clean, dependable electricity,” Kevin Smith, Lightsource bp’s CEO of the Americas. “Arkansas’ largest solar project will help build American-made sustainable steel, as well as create hundreds of U.S. jobs for construction and across the supply chain.”

In June, Entergy Corp. discussed plans for up to 7 gigawatts of renewable resources by the end of 2025 and as much as 14 to 17 gigawatts of renewable resources by the end of 2031. Earlier this year, Entergy Arkansas issued a request for proposals for 1,000 megawatts of wind and solar resources.