Trendsetter City: Fayetteville Flips Switch to Solar Arrays


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by Arkansas Business StaffMonday, Dec. 9, 2019 12:00 am 2 min read

Fayetteville took a major step toward attaining its 2030 goal of using 100% clean energy when it entered into a 20-year collaborative agreement with Ozarks Electric Cooperative and Today’s Power Inc., to install solar panels at the city’s two wastewater treatment facilities.

An agreement was reached in March, and six months later, representatives from Fayetteville, Ozarks Electric Cooperative and Today’s Power Inc. flipped on the power, and the facility became the largest solar power system on municipal land, and the only system in Arkansas with onsite utility-scale storage.

Three solar farms and two battery storage facilities cover 87 acres between the city’s two wastewater treatment plants.

Solar panels will power the city’s two largest electricity-consuming accounts—Noland Wastewater Treatment Facility and the Westside Water Treatment Facility. Combined, they make up about 67% of the overall electricity used by city-owned accounts.

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The project will raise clean energy consumption by city facilities from 16% to 72%, in conjunction with the city’s 2018 Energy Action Plan, which features several goals, including operating all city facilities on 100% clean energy by 2030.

The system is projected to save the city $6 million in energy costs over the 20-year period, according to city officials, and will see a return on the investment in just over three years.

Necessary site improvements to connect the solar arrays at the two Wastewater Treatment facilities are costing Fayetteville $560,818.38.

The money will come from the Water/Sewer reserve fund.

The ongoing cost of electricity the city will purchase from the solar arrays will be fixed at $0.048 per kilowatt hour for 20 years.

Today’s Power will provide full operations and maintenance of the solar arrays and energy storage facilities. Ozarks Electric will upgrade and maintain existing electricity connections at the sites.

Each treatment plant will include an array of solar photovoltaic panels capable of generating 5 megawatts of electricity and a battery storage facility. Any excess electricity will be sent to the electrical grid for use by Ozarks Electric, or relayed to the battery storage facility, which can store 12 megawatt hours of electricity.