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Van Buren, Little Rock Companies Add Solar Power

2 min read

Arkansas Lighting of Van Buren, going back to the earth’s basic light source, the sun, will soon be fully powered by solar energy, the company announced last week.

The lighting product manufacturer, which runs a 120,000-SF factory in Van Buren, has teamed with Shine Solar of Rogers to install solar panels to power its manufacturing, warehousing and shipping operations.

The family-owned company, which announced its acquisition of Prima Lighting and moved its operations from Southern California to Arkansas last spring, manufactures decorative lighting products for commercial use.

The company was one of two announcing major solar initiatives on Tuesday. Rusty Tractor Vineyards of Little Rock is now Arkansas’ first sun-powered winery, having installed a 120-panel photovoltaic array by Seal Solar of North Little Rock. The power plant will provide half of Rusty Tractor’s electricity flow, enhancing new features like all-LED lighting and high-efficiency windows.

“As a farmer and small business owner, solar offered clear financial benefits,” said Doug Myer, Rusty Tractor’s proprietor. “With Seal Solar’s help, we were able to design an array that maximized our cost savings without obstructing the views of our beautiful vineyards.”

The array is expected to produce 55,000 kilowatts a year, and provide $200,000 in power savings over its 30-year lifespan. The project also took advantage of state and federal incentives that Seal Solar helped secure, including a $20,000 grant from the U.S. Agriculture Department’s Rural Energy for America program and a $24,000 energy investment tax credit.

“There’s never been a better time to invest in solar,” Seal President Heather Nelson said, repeating her mantra. “Like Rusty Tractor Vineyards, we encourage all Arkansans, from farmers to business owners to homeowners, to take advantage of current state and federal incentives to go solar.”

The Wall Street Journal reported in September that solar power is providing a rare silver lining in a particularly rough time for farmers battered by trade wars and low commodity prices. 

“Farmers have two options for adding solar power on their farms,” the Journal said, “lease land for energy companies to generate power onto the grid … or install their own solar panels to cut their electricity bills. Both methods can amount to more than $1,000 a month in improved margins, according to farmers and renewable-energy advocates.”

Rusty Tractor plans a grand opening in its newly renovated event space, Sunset Lodge, on Nov. 23. The farm is at 10 Rusty Tractor Lane off David O. Dodd Road. 

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