Today’s Power Inc. of North Little Rock broke ground Monday on two solar power arrays for the city of Bearden (Ouachita County).
The solar energy development company, owned by the state’s electric cooperatives, is building two 200-kilowatt sun arrays to provide renewable power to the 1,000-population municipality. Once the units are built, TPI will own the arrays while the city purchases the electricity they produce at a guaranteed price, officials said.
A 20-year solar power services agreement sets a fixed cost per kilowatt-hour, TPI marketing chief Jennah Denney told Arkansas Business. “What distinguishes this SPSA, and others offered by TPI, is the absence of [cost] escalators. For the city of Bearden, this means getting a fixed cost on electricity for the next 20 years.”
That’s something Bearden Mayor Ginger Bailey can get behind.
“The city of Bearden places a high value on being excellent stewards of our natural resources,” Bailey said in a statement. “Bearden is committing to contribute to a healthy environment while also saving the city money through this solar project. We will be able to accomplish both thanks to our partnership with Today's Power.”
The power-purchase arrangement works to keep the city's energy costs stable and manageable, Bailey said.
Mark Cayce, General Manager of Ouachita Electric Cooperative, the city’s electricity supplier, said in a news release that cooperative members will also benefit.
“Working together, we will help the city increase their resources for renewable energy and help the city, our member, save on their energy,” Cayce said. “These projects are an example of how utilities and large-scale power consumers can meet the needs of the future through innovation and partnership.”
While TPI will build and own the Bearden arrays, OECC and Entergy will maintain their existing utility connections at the two sites.
“One is co-located near Ouachita Electric’s 1-MW fixed system and Southern Arkansas University Tech's 1-MW Tracking System,” Denney said, and is on OECC’s distribution line. “The second 200-kW system is on Entergy's distribution line and will be located off Walnut Street in Bearden.”
Construction is expected to start in earnest by early fall.
TPI, a wholly owned subsidiary of Little Rock’s Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc., has installed more than 40 renewable energy projects in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Tennessee. Those projects include arrays for most of the state’s 17 distribution cooperatives.
“To be successful, a project like this demands exceptional vision, leadership, and collaboration,” TPI President Michael Henderson said in the release, praising Bearden, a timber and railroad town dating back to 1882.