Central Arkansas Water Announces Major Move to Solar Power
LITTLE ROCK, AR – Thanks to a recent decision by the Arkansas Public Service Commission (PSC), Central Arkansas Water (CAW) can move forward in its efforts to improve our environment, create a more sustainable utility, and save ratepayers money.
On Wednesday, the PSC approved CAW’s application to construct a net-metering facility having a generating capacity in excess of 1,000 Kilowatts. This is the first PSC approval of a net-metering facility this size.
Tad Bohannon, CEO of Central Arkansas Water says, “This solar facility is one part of CAW’s ongoing efforts to remain environmentally and economically sustainable for the benefit of customers we serve today and those we will serve in the future.”
CAW uses a substantial amount of power annually, and this solar project is more than two years in the making. By working closely with Scenic Hill Solar over the past few months, CAW 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. Scenic Hill Solar has been an outstanding advisor on this project, guiding CAW through unfamiliar and uncharted territory to obtain the first PSC approval of a net-metering facility in excess of 1,000 kilowatts.
Bohannon added, “We know that increased use of solar power improves the environmental sustainability of the utility and the communities we serve, but utilizing solar power also reduces costs and improves the economic sustainability of the utility for the benefit of our ratepayers.”
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. CAW has the option to purchase the solar power plant after five years.
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.
- Produce enough electricity to power almost 1000 homes annually.
Bohannon added, “This solar facility will not be CAW’s last solar facility. CAW continues to explore additional ways to add solar power and other programs that improve CAW’s environmentally friendly operations.”
Central Arkansas Water is the largest drinking water utility in Arkansas, serving almost 500,000 consumers across seven counties.