Entegrity of Little Rock and Farmington School District officials broke ground Friday in northwest Arkansas on a 499-kilowatt solar array, one of three renewable energy projects to help the district operate sustainably while saving money to apply to pay raises.
The sun array, adjacent to Farmington High School, comes on the heels of efficiency work and is expected to save the district nearly $300,000 a year, and more than $6 million over the project's lifetime.
In 2021, the district partnered with the Arkansas Energy Office to complete an energy savings performance contract, an arrangement with a state-approved company to implement efficiency upgrades that pay for themselves. The school system chose Entegrity, which audited the buildings and tailored work like LED lighting, solar power, water conservation, new HVAC equipment and tune-ups, tighter controls and emergency power generation.
The total project is nearly halfway complete, officials said.
"This project will bring positive outcomes to our school district and our community for decades to come," Farmington Superintendent Jon Laffoon said. School Board President Travis Warren praised the energy savings, saying students "can have firsthand experience with renewable energy, one of the fastest-growing occupations of the next decade."
A mix of funding supports the comprehensive project, including federal relief funds, investment tax credits, and a second lien bond. "All the credit goes to our board," said Laffoon. "By staying agile and responsive throughout the pandemic, our school district was able to make wise use of one-time federal funds, create a safer school environment for staff and students by replacing aging HVAC units, and benefit from record-low interest rates and new state legislation."
Farmington schools have almost 2,600 students and 300 faculty and staff at five schools.