Farmers Electric Cooperative has “flipped the switch” on its new 1 MW solar array in Newport.
Along with Today’s Power Inc., the electric cooperative officially unveiled its new single-axis tracking array, which consists of 3,876 individual solar panels on approximately eight to 10 acres along U.S. Highway 67. The solar array is part of Farmers Electric Cooperative’s effort to provide efficient energy to its members.
The solar array is designed to provide energy to power 135 homes at peak times. Farmers Electric provides energy for members in Independence, Jackson, Poinsett and Woodruff counties. According to figures provided by its website, Farmers Electric serves more than 5,000 members.
Operating the solar array is expected to provide a significant cost savings for the electric cooperative. Farmers Electric expects to save around $80,000 per year due to the solar array.
“This project allows Farmers Electric to secure a portion of the co-op’s energy costs over the 25-year warranty life of the project from clean, renewable and sustainable solar technology,” Farmers Electric CEO Larry Bright says.
“Every decision made impacts members’ lives by increasing or decreasing the price or reliability of the energy we provide,” Today’s Power Inc. President Michael Henderson says.
During the dedication ceremony, both Bright and board chairman Kenny Falwell focused on the importance of incorporating renewable energy into the cooperative’s energy portfolio. Bright said it is critical for the cooperative to take advantage of “Arkansas’ most abundant and greatest resource, the sun.”
Farmers Electric’s board saw the future of energy several years ago, according to Falwell, and knew it would have to pivot to solar technology.“Back in 1964, Bob Dylan wrote a song ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’ and I am sure they were back then, but today they are too. And after today, the sun we see rising each day would help us to produce and transmit our own energy for the first time to our members without leaving a footprint on our environment,” he says.
Farmers Electric and Today’s Power are also partnering with Quail Forever to create a habitat for specific varieties of animals. The project will be serving as a habitat for quail and monarch butterflies.
This represents the third solar project that Today’s Power has completed in 2019. According to TPI Marketing Coordinator Jennah Denney, the company has three additional projects in progress.