Farmers Energizes 1 MW Solar Project in Newport
Farmers Electric Cooperative’s new 1 MW solar array represents the distribution cooperative’s commitment to reliable and affordable energy. The single-axis tracking array consists of 3,876 solar panels on eight to ten acres of land along U.S. Highway 67 near Newport and was constructed by Today’s Power, Inc.
Speaking at the dedication, Farmers CEO Larry Bright said, “this project demonstrates how Farmers’ is taking advantage of Arkansas’ most abundant and greatest resource, the sun. We are also demonstrating that we are responsible to our environment by adding renewable resources to our fuel mix.”
Bright also noted that this project could not have been possible without Today’s Power. He said, “This project allows Farmers Electric 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.”
Today’s Power President Michael Henderson recognized Farmers Electric board of directors at the event, and their large responsibility to serve on a board that represents groups of people in a robust geographical area by saying, “Every decision made impacts members’ lives by increasing or decreasing the price or reliability of the energy we provide.” He applauded their ability to look into the future and see the new paradigm that we live in and how cooperatives will continue to help members, and said, “we wanted to put members first. Changes are coming and solar is just one vehicle to do that."
Also speaking at the event, Farmers Electric’s board chairman, Kenny Falwell, said, “The board at Farmers Electric feels as if we need to be like Marie Laveaux, the new Orleans voodoo queen of the 1800s, who could look into the future, so we can position ourselves to handle the changes over the next 20 years. We saw this change coming a few years ago with the technology in our industry. Michael (Henderson) with Today’s Power made our board aware of the change of solar energy a few years ago.”
Falwell also said, “Back in 1964, Bob Dylan wrote a song ‘The Times They Are A-Changin’’ and I am sure they were back then, but today they are too. And after today, the sun we see rising each day would help us to produce and transmit our own energy for the first time to our members without leaving a footprint on our environment.”
The partnership between Farmers Electric and Today’s Power will not only provide renewable energy, but also will show how Farmers seeks to be a good steward of the environment while saving $80,000 per year from the project.
Farmers Electric believes this project will bring economic development and empower the institutions and communities they serve. Additionally, this project will serve as a habitat for species of animals that are decreasing in number such as quail and monarch butterflies through a partnership with Quail Forever.