NAEC Energizes 1 MW Solar Project in Salem

North Arkansas Electric Cooperative ‘Flips the Switch’ on Today’s Power Solar Array

North Arkansas Electric Cooperative’s new 1 MW solar array represents the distribution cooperative’s first owned generation source in its almost 80-year history. The single-axis tracking array consists of 4,009 solar panels on eight acres of land along U.S. Highway 62 near Salem and was constructed by Today’s Power, Inc.

Speaking at the dedication, NAEC CEO Mel Coleman said the project showed NAEC’s commitment to maintaining a diversified mix of generation sources that includes renewables.

“Our goal is to provide our members with reliable, affordable power,” Coleman said. “New technologies have made solar generation a viable way to help us accomplish that.”

TPI designed the project that will allow NAEC to secure a portion of the co-op’s energy costs over the 25-year warranty life of the project from clean, renewable and sustainable solar technology.

Also speaking at the dedication, Today’s Power President Michael Henderson said the electricity world is changing. “The wisdom and vision shown by North Arkansas’ Board of Directors and Management team will provide clean and renewable energy for NAEC’s members for decades to come.”

The partnership between NAEC and Today’s Power will not only provide renewable energy but also will show how NAEC seeks to be a good steward of the environment. Quail Forever, an organization dedicated to wildlife habitat conservation, will help provide a habitat important to pollinators and wildlife within the region. The goal will be to create habitats for pollinators such as butterflies, bees and other beneficial insects, as well as cottontail rabbits, bobwhite quail and Neotropical grassland songbirds. Plans call for the wildflowers to be sown in the fall.

NAEC also plans to host educational tours of the site.

“We want to promote STEM-based education and careers to our students,” Coleman said. “We already have hosted three chemistry classes at the solar array and look forward to many more.”

North Arkansas Electric Cooperative serves more than 36,650 active accounts throughout seven counties. The cooperative’s headquarters is located in Salem, and full-service offices are located in Ash Flat and Mountain Home. For more information, visit www.naeci.com or call 870-895-3221.

Today’s Power, Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (AECI), a Little Rock-based utility service cooperative owned by 17 Arkansas electric distribution cooperatives. Today’s Power, Inc. offers turn-key solar photovoltaic systems, energy storage systems, electric vehicles and charging stations for all sizes and applications.

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Jennah Denney