By John Lovett
By the end of this year the city of Clarksville will have access to enough solar cells to power 100 percent of its government operations.
Continuing a program that began two years ago to become the state’s first renewable energy city, Clarksville Connected Utilities announced Wednesday it is again partnering with Scenic Hill Solar to build a 2.86 megawatt solar power plant to accentuate its 6.5 megawatt power plant that began producing power 18 months ago. In all the city will have 9.32 megawatts of solar power.
Clarksville Connected Utilities will purchase the solar plant’s power according to the terms of a 28-year Power Purchase Agreement. The second solar power plant, with over 7,000 solar modules, will produce more than 4.4 million kilowatt hours of electricity in the first year of operation and produce more than 123 million kilowatt hours over the next 30 years.
The new ground mount, fixed-tilt power plant will be built by the end of the fourth quarter of this year on 13 acres of land at Clarksville Connected Utilities Operation Maintenance facility. It is expected to have a $5 million economic impact on the city, a news release states. The solar plant is also expected to reduce carbon emissions by more than 86,900 metric tons. That’s the equivalent of driving more than 212 million fewer passenger car miles, the release adds, or “eliminating the burning of over 95 million pounds of coal; or providing over 15,000 homes electricity for one year.”
John D. Lester, general manager of Clarksville Connected Utilities, explained the partnership with Scenic Hill Solar and its CEO, former Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, began with the 6.5 megawatt solar plant in 2017.
“This power plant, as well as Scenic Hill, has exceeded expectations,” Lester said. “Scenic Hill has delivered everything they promised and then some. So when our local leadership had discussions of a second power plant in Clarksville, working with Scenic Hill was a no-brainer and feels natural, like getting the band back together.”
Lester also noted that he hopes the project positions Clarksville as a “place where businesses can expand and meet their corporate sustainability goals.”
“With our flexibility related to power, we may be able to provide a 100 percent renewable energy contract to a commercial or industrial customer on our system,” Lester said. “This is in addition to having the city’s needs fulfilled.”