Today's Power, OECC Help General Dynamics Plug Into Solar


Today's Power, OECC Help General Dynamics Plug Into Solar
Ouachita Electric General Manager Mark Cayce speaks at the commissioning of General Dynamics Ordnance & Tactical Systems' new solar generation plant in East Camden. (Jennah Denney/Today's Power Inc.)

The sun was socked in by rain clouds in Calhoun County, but 6,400 solar panels stood ready anyway Wednesday morning as General Dynamics Ordnance & Tactical Systems celebrated its new solar generation plant in partnership with Today’s Power Inc. and Ouachita Electric Cooperative.

The aerospace contractor in Highland Industrial Park held a commissioning ceremony for the utility-scale solar and storage project in East Camden.

General Dynamics-OTS is drawing power from two one-megawatt arrays built by Today’s Power, a North Little Rock subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc., under a solar power services agreement near the defense company’s East Camden facilities.

As part of four renewable energy projects in the works in the area, the systems will feature battery storage systems able to put out 4.8 megawatts of electricity for two hours.

OECC, the electric cooperative in Camden, will lease and operate the two on-site battery units to store the solar power.

“Together with our partners TPI and OECC, we have found a solution for expanding our usage of renewable energy and attaining environmental sustainability,” said a statement by Eric Ellis, vice president of precision systems at General Dynamics-OTS. “This project not only lowers cost, but more importantly, it positively impacts our employees, our community, and the environment. This initiative is the foundation for future endeavors as we continue to reduce our Operations’ carbon footprint.” 

The arrays will power operations like the company’s explosive load, assemble and pack facility, which supports U.S. military programs including the HYDRA 70 2.75-inch rocket, Hellfire, Javelin and Stormbreaker warheads, and the Modular Artillery Charge System (MACS). The Highland Park campus includes 880,000 SF of manufacturing and storage space staffed by about 300 employees. 

“Ouachita Electric Cooperative is proud to partner with one of our local industries to help lower their cost of operations while at the same time lowering costs for all members of our cooperative,” OECC CEO Mark Cayce said in a statement. “This project is a great example of how industry and utilities can work together to protect the environment, lower cost, and improve the reliability of the electric grid.”

It’s the third battery storage system in the state built by Today’s Power.

“It is a pleasure working with one of the most innovative companies in the world,” Today’s Power President Michael Henderson said, describing General Dynamics-OTS. “[It] has a strong reputation for providing top products and delivering reliable execution for its customers, and TPI is honored to work with General Dynamics-OTS to ensure our nation’s defense is operated with clean sustainable energy.”

Earlier this month, Today’s Power broke ground with the Hampton School District, also in Calhoun County, for a five-acre 770-kilowatt solar station. TPI will own the array and sell all the energy it produces to the school district under a 20-year solar power services contract.

Superintendent Doug Worley said he and the Hampton school board saw solar power as “an innovative way of being fiscally responsible” and respecting the environment. “As a cornerstone of the Hampton community, we saw this opportunity as a method to impact the lives of our students and the entire community,” he said in a news release. “In an area with ample renewable energy use, these projects are just another example of how solar power saves and are a stable long-term investment.”

The array, near Hampton High School, is a single-axis tracking array expected to supply much of the district’s electricity. OECC will provide the rest.

Today’s power made the winning bid after the district developed an RFP for the project in the spring. The array’s construction will begin in December and is expected to come online in late in the first quarter of 2021.