The City of Fayetteville is collaborating with Ozarks Electric Cooperative and Today’s Power, Inc. (TPI)to break ground on Arkansas’ largest solar power system on municipal land and the only one in the state with on-site utility-scale storage. The project will raise clean energy consumption by city facilities from 16 percent to 72 percent and save the city approximately $6 million over 20 years.
Mayor Lioneld Jordan, City Council Members, staff from the City of Fayetteville, leaders of Ozarks Electric Cooperatives, and executives at Today’s Power, Inc. attended the groundbreaking which was held on March 4 at 2 p.m. at the Eastside Water Treatment Facility.
The entire project, made up of three separate systems, will operate on Fayetteville’s two water treatment facility properties, the Paul R. Noland Wastewater Treatment Facility (east Fayetteville) and the Westside Water Treatment Facility, which are the City’s overall largest electricity consuming accounts.
“Climate change is a very serious threat and a significant economic opportunity for our city and our nation,” said Mayor Lioneld Jordan. “Fayetteville is committed to combat climate change by supporting a low-carbon economy and creating good jobs in energy efficiency and renewable energy. Through this important agreement with Today’s Power and Ozarks Electric, the Fayetteville community moves closer to several goals in our Energy Action Plan.”
The plans for this project started when the city of Fayetteville passed its Energy Action Plan in January 2018 to commit to 100% clean renewable energy by 2030. Ozarks contacted TPI to design a solution to help its member (Fayetteville) to achieve the 100% renewable goal. TPI, which had constructed solar farms in northwest Arkansas, designed the unique system that allows Fayetteville move closer to achieving its renewable goal, upgrade the electrical system at its water treatment facilities and save the city approximately $180,000 per year. The storage system provides the opportunity for savings for Ozarks members as well.
“A project of this magnitude requires great vision, leadership and collaboration to be successful” said Michael Henderson, President of TPI. “Special recognition to Mayor Jordan and the Fayetteville City Council, Judge Wood and the Washington County Quorum Court, and Ozarks CEO Mitchell Johnson and the Ozarks Board of Directors and all of their teams for committing to the success of the project,” he added.
The capacity of the entire system at both locations totals 10 megawatts of solar power generation and 24 megawatt-hours of battery storage on a combined land mass of 87 acres. For maximum solar exposure, the arrays of solar photovoltaic panels will be installed on a sun tracking system that produces 15 percent more electricity than stationary mounts. When electricity generated by the arrays exceeds demand, the electricity will be net metered to the Ozarks Electric system or saved in on-site battery storage systems. The batteries will enable Ozarks Electric to draw electricity stored in the batteries during peak use periods instead of having to purchase electricity to meet demand.
“We continue to partner with the City of Fayetteville on many projects, and this one is the most exciting yet,” says Mitchell Johnson, president and CEO of Ozarks Electric. “Working together, we will help the city increase their resources for renewable energy and help the city reach the goals of their Energy Action Plan. This project is an example of how utilities and large-scale power consumers can meet the needs of the future through innovation and partnership.”
Ozarks Electric will upgrade and maintain existing electricity connections at the sites. TPI will own 99 percent of the solar systems, and Fayetteville will own 1 percent. TPI will own 100 percent of the storage systems and will operate both systems. Construction will begin in March, with generation to begin in June and storage completed in July. This will be a technology leading project in the entire mid-south.
“This project represents a win-win-win collaboration between Ozarks, TPI and the City that helps us provide cost-effective, energy security for the City of Fayetteville while also protecting our environment,” said Fayetteville Director of Sustainability, Peter Nierengarten.
This net metering facility must be approved by the Arkansas Public Service Commission (APSC) because it exceeds 300 kilowatts. “The APSC has been great to work with in projects like these that achieve so much value for Arkansans by providing clean energy, economic development and lowering electricity costs,” said Henderson.
Assuming no regulatory, review or equipment delays, the project is expected to be completed in the summer of 2019. Operations will begin shortly thereafter.