Today's Power Inc. continued its run of installing small utility-scale solar power plants for the state's electric cooperatives Tuesday, breaking ground on a 1-megawatt array for Woodruff Electric Cooperative Corp. in Forrest City.
The solar plant, on about eight acres behind the co-op's headquarters on Highway 1, will have nearly 4,000 photovoltaic panels on a single-axis tracking system to follow the sun. The energy output will be enough to power about 125 homes at peak production, Today's Power's Jennah Denney told Arkansas Business.
Woodruff Electric CEO Michael Swan said in a statement that the array will be his co-op's first generation source "directly on our distribution system." He said solar power has become economically feasible, and that co-op members have been asking for it. The distribution cooperative serves nearly 20,000 member accounts in Cross, Lee, Monroe, Phillips, Prairie, St. Francis and Woodruff counties.
"This project shows Woodruff's commitment not only to providing our members with reliable, affordable power, but also to listening to their feedback," said Wayne Beadles, chairman of the co-op's board. "Many members have asked in recent years for additional renewable generation sources. This utility-scale installation offers just that."
Woodruff is the eighth of the state's 17 distribution cooperatives to contract with Today's Power, a wholly owned subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc., the Little Rock-based cooperative that offers utility services to the 17 individual co-ops, and is owned by them.
Michael Henderson, Today's Power's president, said in a news release that the solar installation will lower costs to co-op members while benefiting the environment. "This facility will provide energy from the sun while consuming no valuable resources such as fossil fuel or water," he said. "This is a great example of good stewardship of natural resources."
The site was also designed to offer a Delta-based restoration habitat for monarch butterflies and quail. It is Today's Power's fourth effort in partnership with Quail Forever, a nonprofit dedicated to the conservation of quail, pheasants and other wildlife.