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Jackson County Solar Project Could Be State’s LargestLock Icon

2 min read

About 1,900 acres of roadside property in Jackson County will soon be filled with workers building one of the state’s — if not the nation’s — largest solar power arrays. Newport economic development czar Jon Chadwell confirmed details to Whispers on Wednesday.

Reporter Keith Inman broke the news in the Jonesboro Sun late Tuesday, and Chadwell confirmed the next day that contractor Moss & Associates of Fort Lauderdale, Florida, is advertising for up to 200 workers to put down hundreds of thousands of solar modules along U.S. 67 near Newport.

Starting pay is $18 an hour, according to Moss, which lists a construction outpost at 746 Jackson County Road 42, on the property north of U.S. 67 and the Newport Airport. Moss is building the plant for CMS Solar, a subsidiary of CMS Energy of Jackson, Michigan. CMS, traded on the New York Stock Exchange, operates Consumers Energy, an investor-owned utility with 6 million electricity/natural gas consumers in Michigan. CMS 2020 revenue was $6.68 billion.

Jobs for Grads, Parolees

Moss is “the company that’s overseeing the construction,” Chadwell said in an email, and CMS is “the company that will eventually own it.” He said Moss hires a lot of recent high school graduates to train them up in its system, and that it is also willing to take a chance on hires with felony records. The construction jobs will last 16 to 18 months, Chadwell said.

Neither company has announced the project publicly, nor given any hint of its capacity. But the amount of acreage involved suggests the power plant could be twice as large as Entergy Arkansas’ 100-megawatt solar fields that are now the state’s largest. The 1,900 acres of Jackson County farmland had been planted in rice and soybeans.

Chadwell, whose official title is Newport’s executive director for economic development, said he’s been in contact with Moss and has reached out to CMS. “I have asked them for a media contact and should have it soon.”

Project Engineer Daniel Torres referred all questions about it to two other Moss employees, who had not responded by press time.

Chadwell said drivers along the interstate will be able to see rows of panels for 3 or 4 miles. Construction of a service road has begun near Exit 87 on U.S. 67, Chadwell said.

Job applications are available online at mosscm.com/careers-solar.

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