LITTLE ROCK — Plans were announced Thursday for construction of a solar plant in Johnson County that will be the largest in the state to provide power for a municipal utility.
The utility Clarksville Light & Water Co. and a Little Rock company, Scenic Hill Solar, said in a news release they are partnering on the project. Scenic Hill Solar will build, own and operate the plant on land leased from the utility, which will purchase the plant’s power from the company under the terms of a 30-year power purchase agreement.
Expected to be online by mid-2018, the 6.5 megawatt plant will be the third largest solar plant in the state. It will provide enough energy to power 25 percent of Clarksville homes.
“The effort is designed to position Clarksville, Arkansas, as a town with the quality of life of a small town, but one that can think and do big things,” Clarksville Light & Water General Manager John Lester said in the release.
“We are delighted that this project will save our customers approximately $500,000 annually while growing our existing renewable generation supply portfolio with what will be our first locally based power generation resource,” he said.
The plant will contain more than 20,000 solar modules and produce more than 11,000,000 kilowatt hours of electricity in the first year of operation. It will produce more than 305 million kilowatt hours of electricity over the 30-year term of the power purchase agreement.
The plant is expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than 215,000 metric tons, which is the equivalent of driving 516 million fewer passenger car miles or eliminating the burning of 229 million pounds of coal.
Bill Halter, CEO of Scenic Hill Solar, said, “This leading-edge project proves that electric utilities can simultaneously lower costs for their customers, provide clean and sustainable energy and provide economic development for their communities. Clarksville Light & Water Co. is leading the way into the 21st century economy for their community.”
Glen Hooks, director of the Arkansas chapter of the Sierra Club, said in a statement, “Clean energy production is happening all across our country, and seeing it blossom all over Arkansas is nothing short of exhilarating. Constructing projects like this one in Clarksville mean cleaner air, better health, smaller utility bills and good-paying jobs for Arkansans.”