Clarksville Celebrates 100% Renewable Power for City Operations


The power has been flowing for months, but Clarksville had its first chance Wednesday to publicly bask in becoming the first city government to power 100% of its operations with renewable energy.

City officials and executives with Scenic Hill Solar of North Little Rock and Clarksville Connected Utilities cut the ribbon on the Johnson County seat’s second solar power plant.

The 2.86-megawatt direct current array was turned on just before New Year’s Day, but its coming-out party was postponed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Clarksville’s designation as Arkansas’ first 100% sun-powered city “is a big deal, it surely is,” Scenic Hill CEO Bill Halter told Arkansas Business before the ribbon-cutting. “We are proud to partner with Clarksville Connected Utilities, a client that has shown vision, innovativeness and courage in driving forward into the 21st century and leading in exemplary ways. Congratulations to [CCU General Manager] John Lester, the board of the utility, the mayor and the city council. As they have noted, ‘first, last, forever.’”

In prepared remarks, Lester said the municipal utility and the city were “proud to hold the distinction of being the first municipality in Arkansas where the city governmental operations are 100% run by solar power.” He praised the board’s “forward-thinking solutions aimed at promoting economic development for our community.”

Lester has long seen renewable energy as a selling point for economic development in the Arkansas River Valley, and he noted that the new plant is projected to add $5 million in economic development to the 10,000-population town.

In December 2017, Clarksville Connected Utilities and Scenic Hill Solar turned on the first Clarksville plant, a 6.5-megawatt DC solar power plant that has been generating electricity for nearly three years. Combined, the two solar plants are expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than 300,000 metric tons over 30 years, the equivalent of burning more than 330 million pounds of coal.

The new sun plant, with 7,258 solar modules, is on 13 acres of land at Clarksville Connected Utilities’ Operation Maintenance facility on East Main Street. 

Halter described the project as a springboard for building out solar projects, including several awaiting regulatory approval. “For Scenic Hill, we’re excited to continue to lead the renewable energy transformation for Arkansas. We’re hopeful that the PSC will soon issue rulings in eight different dockets  allowing cities, counties, Central Arkansas Water, Bank OZK and Producers Rice Mill to all move forward as they exercise leadership as well.”