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Ozarks Electric Cooperative of Fayetteville and Today’s Power Inc. broke ground Friday on a 2.7-Mw solar power station that will power two northwest Arkansas cities, two school districts and the cooperative’s telecommunications subsidiary, OzarksGo.
The solar park, on 25 acres of land near Lincoln, will include about 7 Mw of electricL storage capacity to help Ozarks Electric cut costs from wholesale demand charges in high-use periods. Construction is expected to be completed in June.
The multilayered project, known as Ozarks Natural Energy solar park, will allow the cities of Springdale and Lincoln, Elkins Public Schools, Lincoln Public Schools and OzarksGo to reap solar benefits through a third-party leasing mechanism and what the cooperative described as “an integrated land acquisition approach.”
The sun power is projected to save the cities and schools $3 million over 20 years. The result of collaboration with Today’s Power, an Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc. subsidiary that specializes in building small utility-scale solar projects, was built in a specific spot to assist in substation load management, letting Ozarks Electric optimize its grid.
In a statement, Ozarks Electric President and CEO Mitchell Johnson praised the “creative partnership” for providing “unique solutions” to multiple needs. “We are always looking for ways to help our members increase their resources for renewable energy.”
The participants in the solar park will have separate meters to apportion billing under a solar power service agreement. In an arrangement common for Today’s Power, the North Little Rock company will build, own, operate and maintain the solar system and battery unit.
“This multi-industry solar park project is a great example of bringing cooperatives and members together to find alternative ways to help them with their energy usage,” said Michael Henderson, president of Today’s Power. “Collaborating with these partners shows everyone can benefit from a renewable energy solution.”
Ozarks Electric, incorporated in 1938, serves about 79,000 meters in nine Arkansas and northeast Oklahoma counties. It already operated a 1-Mw community solar station, Ozarks Natural Energy, making shares available to members.