Springdale to flip switch for solar power

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SPRINGDALE – The city will flip the switch on Friday to convert Springdale Recreation Center to solar powered electricity and save about $ 24,000 a year.

Authorities signed an agreement with the Ozarks Electric Co-op to provide the city with 20-year electricity from the 7,000-panel, 25-acre solar farm located on a mountain top north of Lincoln. The grid contains 1,182 panels that will be dedicated to capturing power for Springdale, which the city will purchase as power from Ozarks. Today’s Power, a subsidiary of the cooperative, built, operates and maintains the farm.

Springdale officials expect electricity generated by the city’s solar panels to supply 100% of the recreation center’s needs for 10 months, said Wyman Morgan, city administration and finance director . The rest will supply the animal shelter and three fire stations for eight months.

Any energy generated by the city’s dedicated solar panels, but not used, will be sold elsewhere. The city will receive a credit for these kilowatts, which can offset fees and costs associated with the accounts, said Todd Clouse, head of energy services for Ozarks Electric.

“Let the sun shine,” Morgan said.

Cities, counties, schools and other entities in Arkansas are permitted to enter into rental agreements for solar power projects under Law 464 of 2019. The state has been a leader in the growth of the state. solar employment, reporting a 30% increase from 2017 to 2018, according to Arkansas. Advanced Energy Association. Only five states experienced higher year-over-year growth during this period. Arkansas ranked 18th out of 50 states for solar production in 2018, adding 118 megawatts of solar production, according to the association.

The Lincoln Solar Park also serves the City of Lincoln, Lincoln Schools and the City of Elkins, Clouse said.

Washington County put the first of its solar projects online in April 2020. The county quorum court spent $ 8 million on an energy retrofit project, of which solar panels play only a small role, said Dwight Gonzales, county director of Building and Grounds.

Bright, sunny days mean the panels store energy from the sun for use during the evenings of peak summer use. The county owns the infrastructure, which means the county gets 100% of the electricity collected, Gonzales explained.

He said he and county officials were very happy with the solar project, although an overall savings amount for the year has yet to be released by the contractor for the project.

Fayetteville has been using solar energy to power its two wastewater treatment plants since September 2019.

Peter Nierengarten, director of the city’s sustainability department, said the city is working with Ozarks Electric and Today’s Power on a program similar to Springdale, although solar panels are installed at both factories.

He said the city had seen a reduction in its regular electricity bills, but the numbers had not been tallied for the first full year of service.

CHARGES

The city currently spends $ 75,000 a year with Ozarks to power the animal shelter, three fire stations and the recreation center, Morgan said.

The electric utility currently charges the city 8.26 to 10.28 cents per kilowatt hour for electricity.

The 20-year contract for solar power will see the city pay 0.055 cents per kilowatt hour – with no increase, Morgan said. Any electricity the city uses that is not solar will be provided at the regular rate.

The farm will generate about 400 kilowatt hours per year for the city, Morgan said.

A 1,000-watt bulb can glow for 10 hours on 1 kilowatt hour, Clouse said.

He explained that the energy generated by the dedicated solar panels in Springdale will go directly into Ozarks’ power grid, with a metering system recording how much the city’s panels are delivering compared to what they are using.

The energy generated by the Springdale panels will also flow into a battery system in the solar farm and could be discharged to the power grid during peak periods of use.

Clouse noted that the region’s recent warm temperatures have already required more power than the solar system can provide during the afternoon hours.

“People are coming home from work,” he said. “They want to cook. They want to clean. They want to do things when they get home. We have the ability to press a button and discharge that stored energy. We have used the battery system to help our members without buying. of electricity at a higher price. Cost. “

Ozarks provides stored energy to its solar customers at the same rate as solar energy, Clouse said.

The deal with Ozarks Electric and Today’s Power meets the city’s needs, Morgan said.

The utility company owns and maintains the city’s solar equipment, he said. And the city didn’t have to spend money on capital improvements to build the infrastructure.

The city is simply buying the electricity, which officials expect cost savings to be offset, Morgan said.

Clouse said the city’s account includes fees, taxes and other costs typically associated with utility accounts. He expects the excess electricity generated by the Springdale panels to cover those costs.

The city also pays accounts to the Southwestern Electric Power Co. and the Carroll Electric Cooperative for city facilities in the service areas of these companies.

City officials are currently working with Ozarks to create separate solar accounts to power its public works facilities and ball fields, which are also in the Ozarks service area, Morgan said.

FLIP, NOT BLIP

City staff and residents using the Springdale Recreation Center on Friday won’t be left in the dark when solar power is turned on, Morgan said.

Chad Wolf, director of the city’s parks and recreation department, said the recreation center’s electricity bill for 2020 was $ 47,000 in 2020.

The 120,000 square foot building has 12 air conditioners and 142 large LED lights above its sports fields. The recreation center is second behind the public library in terms of maximum power consumption in the city, where climate control and some lighting were needed even when the library was closed during the covid-19 outbreak, Morgan said.

The recreation center is open 87 hours a week, Wolf said.

solar panels and inverters on Wednesday June 15, 2021 in the new solar farm being built by Ozark Electric Cooperative and Today’s Power Inc. near Lincoln. The 25-acre park will serve five entities with 2.7 megawatts of solar panels. See nwaonline.com/210620Daily/ and nwadg.com/photos for a photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette / David Gottschalk)” style=”width: 100%”/>

A section of new solar panels and inverters on Wednesday June 15, 2021 in the new solar farm being built by Ozark Electric Cooperative and Today’s Power Inc. near Lincoln. The 25-acre park will serve five entities with 2.7 megawatts of solar panels. See nwaonline.com/210620Daily/ and nwadg.com/photos for a photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette / David Gottschalk)

Todd Clouse, Director of Energy Services at Ozark Electric Cooperative, describes on Wednesday, June 15, 2021, the battery storage units and control boxes for the new solar farm being built by Ozark Electric Cooperative and Today's Power Inc. near Lincoln .  The 25-acre park will serve five entities with 2.7 megawatts of solar panels.  See nwaonline.com/210620Daily/ and nwadg.com/photos for a photo gallery.  (NWA Democrat-Gazette / David Gottschalk)

Todd Clouse, Director of Energy Services at Ozark Electric Cooperative, describes on Wednesday, June 15, 2021, the battery storage units and control boxes for the new solar farm being built by Ozark Electric Cooperative and Today’s Power Inc. near Lincoln . The 25-acre park will serve five entities with 2.7 megawatts of solar panels. See nwaonline.com/210620Daily/ and nwadg.com/photos for a photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette / David Gottschalk)

One of the new battery storage unit control boxes on Wednesday June 15, 2021 in the new solar farm being built by Ozark Electric Cooperative and Today's Power Inc. near Lincoln.  The 25-acre park will serve five entities with 2.7 megawatts of solar panels.  See nwaonline.com/210620Daily/ and nwadg.com/photos for a photo gallery.  (NWA Democrat-Gazette / David Gottschalk)

One of the new battery storage unit control boxes on Wednesday June 15, 2021 in the new solar farm being built by Ozark Electric Cooperative and Today’s Power Inc. near Lincoln. The 25-acre park will serve five entities with 2.7 megawatts of solar panels. See nwaonline.com/210620Daily/ and nwadg.com/photos for a photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette / David Gottschalk)

A section of new solar panels and inverters Wednesday at the new solar farm being built by Ozark Electric Cooperative and Today's Power Inc. near Lincoln.  The 25-acre park will serve five entities with 2.7 megawatts of solar panels.  See nwaonline.com/210620Daily/ and nwadg.com/photos for a photo gallery.  (NWA Democrat-Gazette / David Gottschalk)

A section of new solar panels and inverters Wednesday at the new solar farm being built by Ozark Electric Cooperative and Today’s Power Inc. near Lincoln. The 25-acre park will serve five entities with 2.7 megawatts of solar panels. See nwaonline.com/210620Daily/ and nwadg.com/photos for a photo gallery. (NWA Democrat-Gazette / David Gottschalk)

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Turn the knob

Springdale will convert its recreation center to solar power with a ceremony.

When: 10 a.m. on Friday

Where: Ozarks Electric Cooperative Solar Farm, 11114 Wedington Black Top Road, Lincoln

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