Rich Mountain Electric Cooperative and Today’s Power Inc. of Little Rock publicly unveiled a completed 1-megawatt solar array Thursday near the utility’s headquarters in Mena, christening it with a name familiar in Arkansas’ cooperative power industry.
The 3,800-panel, 9-acre solar power plant off Arkansas Highway 88 was named for Rich Mountain President and CEO Leon Philpot, who is retiring after 58 years with the co-op.
The Leon Philpot Solar Facility, as it’s officially dubbed, was designed and built by Today’s Power to mitigate some of RMEC’s peak summer demand and will employ single-axis tracking to follow the sun.
Philpot didn’t bask personally, but spoke of the glory of the system itself.
“Our cooperative network is always working to ensure that we have a variety of power resources to meet membership news, and renewable energy is an integral part of the strategy,” he said in a statement.
The Rich Mountain cooperative serves 8,900 members in Howard, Montgomery, Polk and Sevier counties in Arkansas, as well as parts of Oklahoma.
The array is Today’s Power’s 13th project for cooperatives in Arkansas. Today’s Power is a wholly owned subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc., the utility service cooperative in Little Rock owned by the state’s 17 distribution cooperatives, including RMEC.
Philpot’s successor as the utility’s president and CEO, Brad Castor, said the co-op’s goal is to be a trusted energy advocate for its members.
“This solar energy project is going to help our cooperative family as well as our local communities,” Brad Castor said. “As a nonprofit electric cooperative owned by our members, we give back to the people we serve.”
Today’s Power President Michael Henderson said the system would help RMEC “lower the cost of energy to its members as well as provide economic stimulus to Mena and Polk County for the next 30 years and beyond.”