Small Town Expects Big Benefits From Municipal Solar Plant

by Joseph Bebon

Clarksville Light & Water Co., a municipal utility in Clarksville, Ark., has partnered with Scenic Hill Solar to build a 6.5 MW DC solar power plant. According to the utility, the project is expected to produce enough clean energy to satisfy over 25% of Clarksville’s residential electricity consumption.

“The effort is designed to position Clarksville, Ark., as a town with the quality of life of a small town, but one that can think and do big things,” says Clarksville Light & Water Co. General Manager John Lester. “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.”

“During those times of day when both our hydro and solar resources are producing power, Clarksville will be producing half its power from renewable energy sources,” continues Lester. “We’re making Clarksville an example that small towns can be prepared to take advantage of what the future holds for all of us.”

Scenic Hill Solar will build, own and operate the solar power plant on land leased from Clarksville Light & Water Co., which will buy the project’s output under a 30-year power purchase agreement (PPA).

Slated to be online by mid-2018, the solar plant will occupy over 40 acres of land, contain more than 20,000 solar modules and utilize a single-axis tracking system to follow the sun and maximize power production. The project is estimated to produce over 11 million kWh of electricity in the first year of operation and produce over 305 million kWh of electricity over the 30-year term of the PPA. In addition, the project is expected to add over $10 million of economic development to Clarksville.

Bill Halter, CEO of Scenic Hill Solar, states, “We are delighted by the leadership and foresight of our partner, Clarksville Light & Water Co. 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.”

“This solar power plant is the most recent example of our forward-thinking plans to take advantage of technological advances,” notes Lester. “This solar project dovetails nicely with the fiber optic network we’re now constructing that is capable of multi-gigabit speeds so Clarksville will be equipped to take advantage of changes being created by the Internet’s evolution. Combined, the solar and telecommunications projects are creating an infrastructure in Clarksville for the 21st century economy.”

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