The Arkansas Public Service Commission has approved a new utility-scale solar project that will provide Entergy Arkansas customers with 100 MW of solar power and 10 MW of battery storage for when the sun isn't shining.
The Searcy Solar project in White County will be the largest utility-owned solar project in the state and the first to feature battery storage. When completed in 2021, it will be the third project generating solar energy for Entergy Arkansas' customers, bringing the total of solar energy to 281 MW covering more than 2000 acres — enough to power about 45,000 homes. The Stuttgart Solar Energy Center has been producing 81 MW of solar energy since 2018, and Chicot Solar, under construction near Lake Village, will provide 100 MW of solar power when it comes online later this year.
"Entergy Arkansas is proud to be leading the charge in expanding solar power in our state and we are committed to meeting our customers' energy needs reliably, affordably, and safely as we have done for over 100 years," said Laura Landreaux, president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas. "Large-scale solar facilities provide the most cost-effective solar power for all customers, keeping rates low while delivering the best value for renewables in Arkansas."
"This large solar facility will be a very effective economic development tool as we work to attract new employers and retain our existing businesses. Many corporations have renewable energy and sustainability objectives," said Arkansas Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. "This facility, combined with Entergy's other large solar facilities in Arkansas, will help us strengthen and grow the state's economy."
The Searcy Solar project will be built on approximately 800 acres east of Eastline Road (U.S. 67, Exit 44) in Searcy and will include a 10-MW array of lithium-ion (Li-ion) batteries capable of storing up to 30 MW hours of electricity, which is expected to be charged and discharged daily to maximize the value of the solar energy for the benefit of customers.
"This is welcome news for the area," said Sen. Jonathan Dismang, R-Searcy. "This large solar project provides a much-needed economic benefit to Searcy and White County. It will provide construction-related jobs and a long-term, low-cost renewable resource."
The Searcy Solar facility will bring 200 temporary construction jobs and two or three permanent jobs, along with periodic maintenance workers. It also will provide about US$700,000 in annual property taxes as well as environmental benefits through emissions-free energy.
"I'm excited to have this large solar facility constructed in Searcy. This will enhance our local economy and tax base," said Rep. Les Eaves, R-Searcy. "I appreciate Entergy leadership in renewable energy and economic development."
Local officials called the project an economic development win for White County both in terms of construction jobs and the associated activity, as well as a long-term addition to the county's tax base.
"Entergy's large solar facility, coupled with the recent announcement from Conway Corp., make White County a leader in renewable energy in Arkansas," said White County Judge Michael Lincoln. "I am excited about the opportunities that these large solar facilities that generate low-cost renewable power will bring to the county and the state."
Searcy Mayor Kyle Osborne said, "This is an economic shot in the arm for Searcy. This will make Searcy a leader in renewable energy in Arkansas. I am excited that Entergy is bringing this facility to our community. This will be another positive feature we can use to promote Searcy as a great place to live and work."