Today’s Power Inc. of Little Rock dedicated another small utility-scale solar installation Tuesday, this one for Farmers Electric Cooperative of Newport, then officials turned the microphone over to a man whose name was suited to the occasion: Farmers CEO Larry Bright.
“This projects demonstrates how Farmers is taking advantage of Arkansas’ most abundant and greatest resource, the sun,” Bright said. He also singled out another resource, Today’s Power, the electric cooperative affiliate that built the 1-megawatt array of 3,876 photovoltaic panels on about nine acres along U.S. Highway 67 near Newport.
“This marks the completion of the ninth of the 10 projects announced by electric cooperatives in Arkansas,” said Jennah Denney, marketing and public relations coordinator for Today’s Power, a wholly owned subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc., the utility service provider owned by Arkansas' 17 electric distribution cooperatives. “It was a gorgeous day in Newport to celebrate the changes that are taking place in Jackson County.”
Bright said TPI was crucial in delivering a project “that allows Farmers Electric to secure a portion of the co-op’s energy costs over the 25-year warranty life of the project from clean, renewable and sustainable solar technology.”
The project is expected to save Farmers Electric $80,000 a year, while spurring economic development and fostering a cleaner environment. The project will serve as a habitat for pressured species like quail and monarch butterflies through a partnership with Quail Forever, a conservation group backed by quail hunters.
Kenny Falwell, chairman of the Farmers Electric board, credited TPI President Michael Henderson for helping Newport leaders see the light. “We saw this change coming a few years ago with the technology in our industry,” Falwell said at the dedication. “Michael made our board aware of the changes in solar energy… After today, the sun we see rising each day will help us to produce and transmit our own energy for the first time to our members without leaving a footprint on our environment.”
Farmers Electric, formed in Newport in 1937, serves about 5,200 members in Independence, Jackson, Poinsett and Woodruff counties.