By Kyle Massey
Fresh off its announcement of a $5 million municipal solar project in Clarksville, Scenic Hill Solar of Little Rock is working to make the Guy-Perkins School District in Faulkner County the state's first school system fully powered by electricity from the sun.
The company is building a 585-kilowatt photovoltaic array expected to provide 100 percent of electricity used by the 450-student school system. The 1,400-solar-module project will save the district roughly $500,000 in power costs over the 30-year agreement, in which Scenic Hill will build and maintain the plant and the schools will reap the energy under a power-purchase agreement.
Scenic Hill, which is privately held, wouldn't put a specific price tag on the project, but the company's CEO, former Arkansas Lt. Gov. Bill Halter, cited an economic impact of "over $1 million to the Guy, Arkansas, community."
Schools Superintendent Shade Gilbert said he knows of "no other school district in the state of Arkansas" that is generating all of its own electricity from renewable sources.
"All this is being achieved while simultaneously reducing our carbon footprint by 17,000 tons of CO2 emissions for the same [30-year] period," Gilbert said in a news release. "The process has been quite seamless from the beginning of talks in January to this stage where we are ready to order materials and begin construction."
Halter said his company is proud to partner with the district and its "forward-looking leadership." The system employs 80 faculty and staff members, and plans to use the solar power station as an educational tool as well as a power resource.