Saline County taxpayers will get a break on county jail electricity bills starting this summer, savings delivered by a new 667-kilowatt solar power array that was celebrated Thursday in a “flip the switch” ceremony in Benton.
The solar power plant’s nearly 1,500 solar ground panels on three acres near the county detention center on Neeley Street will provide at least 30 years of power under a guarantee from Johnson Controls, the Irish energy efficiency company with headquarters in Little Rock.
The solar system also includes panels mounted on the roof of the detention center, modules with 25-year guaranteed life spans. Together they are designed to offset 1.6 million kilowatt hours of power and save enough for the county to recoup its investment in 20 years.
“It is exciting to see the Detention Center solar array, as it reflects the vision of our Quorum Court to reduce Saline County’s energy costs,” Saline County Judge Jeff Arey said at the ceremony, according to a news release. “In addition to the cost savings, this project also demonstrates Saline County’s commitment to pursuing opportunities for innovation and leadership.”
The county’s contract with Johnson Controls also includes roof-mounted arrays atop the Edison Complex, which has offices of the Health Department, Department of Human Services and the District Court. Additional roof arrays went onto the County Complex building and a separate building that houses Juvenile Services, the Office of Emergency Management and the Prosecuting Attorney’s office.
“Johnson Controls is proud and thankful to be involved in this project to ensure decades of cost savings to the county,” said Alex Ray, the company’s business development director for Arkansas. “This project delivers strong economic return for our tax dollars, millions in needed facility improvements, and a cleaner environment.”
Saline County invested about $6 million in the overall project, which also includes system upgrades throughout various county properties such as LED lighting, water conservation measures, HVAC systems, and energy management controls.