Energy Storage for Arkansas Utilities
Ozarks Electric Cooperative (OEC), in a trilateral agreement with Today’s Power, Inc. (TPI) and the city of Fayetteville, broke ground in March on two solar power systems with a combined 12-megawatts of solar generation and a total of 24-megawatt hours of energy stored in battery storage system. Concurrently, Entergy Arkansas, in partnership with NextEra, announced plans in March to build a 100-megawatt solar energy facility near Searcy that will be capable of storing up to 30-megawatt hours of electricity.
Ozarks Electric Cooperative joins forces with Today’s Power Inc., on Fayetteville’s Energy Action Plan
“Ozarks Electric Cooperative is the first utility in the Mid-South to lead the charge on energy storage in partnership with the City of Fayetteville, who has accomplished 72 percent of their renewable energy goals with this project,” TPI spokesperson Jennah Denney says, adding that TPI is currently deploying the only energy storage system in the Mid-South.
Kris Williams, director of Energy Services at Ozarks Electric Cooperative, says the project is expected to be completed in late June of 2019.
Located at the east and west wastewater treatment facilities in Fayetteville and spanning a total of 70 acres, each system will utilize an onsite battery charged through solar panels during the day and offloaded during peak evening hours.
“Batteries with their increasing capacities and decreasing prices take the intermittency out of renewable energy,” Denney says. “Batteries also enable us to continue using green solar energy into the night, long after the sun has set.”
Williams says the batteries are each about the size of a school bus and will be kept in structures separate from the solar panels to ensure the appropriate environmental conditions to preserve the life of the batteries.
The facilities are a facet of Fayetteville’s Energy Action Plan, set in motion in 2018 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and are a step forward from the OEC’s one-megawatt, 4,080-panel solar array located in Springdale. Battery usage was considered for the facility, known as the Ozarks One, but was never implemented.
“Ozarks Electric approached the City of Fayetteville with an opportunity to help the city meet their renewable goals while deploying a new technology that would help keep their rates low and save their members money by reducing the utility’s demand,” Denney says.
Currently, OEC members have the option of purchasing solar panels to receive a credit on their bill each month.