Entergy Arkansas said Monday that it plans to build a 100-megawatt solar energy facility in White County near Searcy. The project would be the largest utility-owned solar facility in the state and the first to feature a battery for storing solar power.
The project requires approval by the Arkansas Public Service Commission. The facility would be built by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources and then purchased by Entergy. It's expected to be in service by 2021.
"As the largest solar provider and a leader in renewable energy in Arkansas, Entergy is proud to bring a third large-scale solar project to the state that will allow our customers to benefit from the economic and environmental advantages of renewable energy, while at the same time learning about the benefits of battery storage," Entergy Arkansas CEO Laura Landreaux said.
The project would allow Entergy to offer customers a total 281 megawatts of solar energy, enough to power about 45,000 homes. The emissions-free, renewable energy facility will be built on 800 acres east of Eastline Road (US 67, Exit 44) in Searcy.
Entergy Arkansas spokeswoman Kerri Jackson Case said the company would file plans with the PSC in the new "few months."
Entergy already purchases 81 MW of solar energy from NextEra at a solar facility near Stuttgart, which is currently the state's largest. It will purchase another 100 MW of energy from NextEra's Chicot Solar project at Lake Village when the plant comes online in 2020.
The construction phase of the Stuttgart plant created about 200 construction jobs; Chicot Solar is expected to employ about the same. Entergy said the two projects together will generate $900,000 per year in property taxes.
The Searcy project would include an array of lithium-ion batteries capable of storing up to 30 MW hours of electricity. The stored energy is expected to be charged and discharged daily to maximize the value of the solar energy, Entergy said.
Entergy and NextEra plan to share more about the project at a forum from 5-7 p.m. Tuesday, April 2, in Cone Chapel at Harding University's American Heritage Center in Searcy.