Entergy Arkansas to go Online with Searcy Solar Project in White County

Aug. 20, 2021
The Searcy Solar project in White County, will be the first to feature battery energy storage (BESS) and will be the largest utility-owned solar project in the state.
Entergy Arkansas (EA) a subsidiary of Entergy Corp., provides electricity to approximately 722,000 customers in 63 counties in the state of Arkansas. Slated to go online in early October, the Searcy Solar project in White County, will be the first to feature battery energy storage (BESS) and will be the largest utility-owned solar project in the state.

Battery Storage Specifications

The 30 MWh lithium-ion batteries are enclosed in six climate-controlled battery enclosures. Each module is attached to a solar inverter in a DC configuration via a DC/DC converter. This will allow for the solar inverter to operate the solar photovoltaics optimally while simultaneously charging the batteries from solar.  The batteries are designed to be charged and discharged daily, and can be dispatched in a variety of ways, even after the sun sets. The storage battery component will maximize the value of the solar energy for the benefit of customers.

The Searcy Solar project, designed and built by NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, Inc., will generate 100 MW of emission-free power from the plant’s more than 350,000 solar panels.

Line and Substation Upgrades

To connect the Searcy solar plant to EA’s transmission system, an additional transmission dead end structure and span of conductors was installed into the Searcy Price 161kV Substation. At the Searcy Price 161kV substation, a new 161kV line breaker bay was installed to accommodate the new Searcy solar generator tie line. The existing control house was expanded to accommodate new relaying, metering, and telecom/communication panels. A new fiber cable was also installed from the Searcy Price 161kV substation to the Searcy Solar collector station for communication purposes. Entergy engineers coordinated these design and installation upgrades with NextEra Energy Resources.

Entergy Arkansas 6.4% Solar by 2023

Located on 800 acres east of Eastline Road in Searcy, Arkansas, the Searcy Solar Plant will be the company’s third solar energy generation project, bringing the total of solar power to 281 MW generated from panels covering more than 2000 acres – enough to power about 45,000 homes in Arkansas with clean, renewable energy.

Unlike the other two solar projects, which are owned and operated by a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC with energy produced sold to EA for 20 years, the Searcy Solar Plant, built by NextEra Energy Resources will be owned by Entergy Arkansas. 

The Stuttgart Solar Energy Center, with more than 350,000 photovoltaic solar panels, has been producing 81 MW of solar energy since 2018, and the Chicot Solar Energy Center, which also hosts 350,000 solar panels, has been providing 100 MW of power since it came online in the fall of 2020. 

Two additional projects are approved and pending approval by the Arkansas Public Service Commission: Walnut Bend and West Memphis respectively, which will generate a combined 280 MW of solar energy. Those five projects will generate a combined 561 MW.

The company recently released a Request for Proposals for an additional 500 MW of renewable resources, including wind and solar power. The additional renewable energy resources EA is seeking will likely be a combination of build-own-transfer agreements, self-build alternatives and power purchase agreements, which would range from 10 to 20 years. Only solar photovoltaic and wind turbine resources will be eligible for the proposal and must include a minimum electricity generation capacity of 50 MW.

Entergy Corporation owns and operates one of the cleanest large-scale U.S. power generating fleets across four service territories, with approximately 30,000 MW of electric generating capacity, including 7000 MW of nuclear power. EA’s solar will comprise 6.4% of the company’s generating capacity available by 2023.

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