South Arkansas Technical College Dedicates 1 MW Solar System
LITTLE ROCK & CAMDEN, ARKANSAS —June 27, 2019 —Southern Arkansas University Tech (SAU Tech), in collaboration with Today’s Power Inc. (TPI), completed and dedicated a 1-megawatt (MW) solar facility that will provide approximately 70% of SAU Tech’s electrical energy needs by “flipping the switch” on clean, green and sustainable solar technology during Ouachita Electric Cooperative’s (OECC) 80th annual meeting.
Speaking at the ceremony, Dr. Jason Morrison, SAU Tech Chancellor, stated that, “SAU Tech is proud to be the leader among Arkansas’ higher education institutions in looking to solar technology to reduce energy costs. Our vision is to incorporate long-term efficiency in the operation of our campus to keep college affordable for students and to be good stewards of our state dollars. Our partnership with Today’s Power and OECC is an example of how innovation is accessible to all of us, and it is the vehicle for growth and prosperity in South Arkansas.”
This 10-acre project is a single-axis tracking technology of approximately 3,344 panels located near OECC’s 1-MW array in Holly Springs and should be sustainable for more than 25 years, providing $105,000 in savings annually. According to Dr. Morrison, “The energy savings will be used to invest back into the institution, students and the future of the college and our community.”
SAU Tech conducted a bid process, seeking the highest quality and lowest price offering and Today’s Power, Inc. (TPI) was selected because of its vast experience and low price.
After collaboration with Ouachita Electric Cooperative, the State of Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration, local Representatives and Legislators, along with consultation from the Public Service Commission staff was conducted, the project’s groundbreaking took in February of 2019.
Ouachita Electric Cooperative, under the leadership of General Manager Mark Cayce, supported SAU Tech in developing a partnership model that truly exemplifies the OECC’s mission to provide its members with affordable and reliable energy.
“SAU Tech has been a leader developing solar energy in Arkansas since 2014 when planning started for one of the first utility-scale solar projects in the state. It was only natural that Tech would have a solar facility for its own energy needs and educational purposes. We have common goals of demonstrating the environmental and economic benefits of clean energy,” Cayce said.
Just in the year 2019, TPI has developed and commissioned five utility-scale solar projects, with most in the 1-MW range, as the result of a utility partnership with Arkansas. TPI currently has an additional 12 MWs in the development and construction process during the remainder of 2019.
Michael W. Henderson, President of TPI, said, “We are so proud to have been selected to partner with SAU Tech and Ouachita Electric in developing this project. The unique ownership partnership with SAU Tech makes us partners for the next 20 years, and I couldn’t think of any other institution that fits our culture so well. This project has had to overcome a lot of hurdles with educating and obtaining Arkansas Public Service Commission approval and withstanding challenges by traditional utilities who sought to prevent this split ownership Net Metering transaction structure. We are appreciative of the persistence of SAU Tech’s leadership for this project.”
SAU Tech is a publicly funded two-year college founded in 1968. The College provides online, traditional and technical degrees to about 1,800 students each year. The College employs more than 160 staff and faculty and is located inside the Highland Industrial Park in East Camden, Arkansas. SAU Tech is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and provides statewide certifications through its environmental and fire academies. In 2018, SAU Tech added Rocket athletics (Basketball) to its offerings for students and in 2019 has plans to add softball as well. The athletics program is part of the National Junior College Athletic Association.