South Arkansas Telephone Dials Up Sun Power


South Arkansas Telephone Dials Up Sun Power
Mark Cayce (File photo) (Karen E. Segrave)

Mark Cayce, the solar power advocate who runs Ouachita Electric Cooperative Corp. in Camden, has teamed with David Wells, CEO of South Arkansas Telephone Co., and a Texas startup to install a solar array at the phone company’s offices in Hampton (Calhoun County).

Helical Solar of Leander, Texas, has used federal grants to develop low-cost dual-axis solar systems for rural applications, including projects for homeowners, businesses and farms.

The first system to be tested was installed Friday in Hampton by Helical with assistance from Ouachita Electric Cooperative. The array includes nine panels mounted on a dual-axis pole, Cayce said.

“The system will generate approximately 9,600 kilowatt-hours annually,” he said, enough to power the average home for a year.

Two years ago, Helical led by founder and President James McKinion  received a Phase I Small Business Innovation Research Grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for small utility-installed systems.

In August 2020, Helical got another DOE grant to develop a patent-pending system to enter into pilot programs with rural cooperatives like OECC, which has an innovative tariff-on-bill program to improve rural access to renewable solar power.