by Talk Business and Politics Staff
The Central Arkansas Water Board of Commissioners approved an agreement Friday (Dec. 20) between CAW and Scenic Hill Solar to build a 4.8 MW DC solar power plant near Cabot.
The 30-acre plant, which will be located near the Main St. Exit off Highway 67/167 near Cabot, is expected to go online in the fourth quarter of 2020 subject to approval by the Arkansas Public Service Commission.
“We are excited about this partnership with Scenic Hill Solar to utilize renewable energy to power CAW operations,” said Tad Bohannon, CEO of CAW. “Use of solar power is just one of the many ways CAW continues to be an industry leader.”
CAW uses a substantial amount of power annually, mainly to pump water from Lake Maumelle to the Jack Wilson Water Treatment Plant. By working with Scenic Hill Solar to build this plant, CAW said it will see immediate cost savings in its annual power use. It is estimated that CAW will save more than $7 million in energy costs over 30 years under this agreement.
“This will allow CAW to find valuable cost savings in our daily operations, which can be utilized to continue to grow and replace aging infrastructure,” Bohannon said. “This is just another way we are securing our supply of safe, dependable water for our customers for years to come.”
CAW is the owner of the property and will lease it to Scenic Hill Solar for construction and operation of the plant. As part of the agreement, Scenic Hill Solar will sell power generated at the plant back to CAW at 5.1 cents per kilowatt hour. The contract between Scenic Hill Solar and CAW includes an initial 20-year agreement, followed by two five-year options to extend.
“Central Arkansas Water provides one of our most important resources, and we are proud to work with them to provide a renewable energy solution that not only benefits our environment but also provides cost reductions for CAW customers who depend on them every day,” said Bill Halter, CEO of Scenic Hill Solar.
“This partnership between a local business and a government organization will benefit customers, spur economic development, and save money. This project will also provide more than $7 million of investment into the Central Arkansas economy. Scenic Hill Solar will make this capital investment and 450,000 CAW ratepayers will benefit,” Halter added.
The 4.8 MW solar power plant will:
Produce more than 8,240,000 kWh of electricity in the first year of operation and produce over 228,720,000 kWh of electricity over the next 30 years;
Produce enough clean electricity to satisfy approximately 20 percent of CAW’s current energy expenses;
Contain more than 12,300 solar modules;
Utilize a ground mounted single-axis tracking system;
Produce environmental benefits equal to the removal of 400 million passenger car miles from the highway; and
Produce enough electricity to power almost 1,000 homes annually.
Central Arkansas Water serves more than 450,000 customers in seven counties in the region.