North Arkansas Electric Cooperative (NAEC) has “flipped the switch” on its new solar array.
Partnering with Today’s Power, NAEC constructed a 1 MW single-axis solar array on eight acres of land near Salem. The solar array, which consists of 4,009 solar panels, is the cooperative’s first owned generation source in its history.
NAEC CEO Mel Coleman says the solar array represents the company’s dedication to developing a diversified portfolio of generation sources.
“Our goal is to provide our members with reliable, affordable power,” Coleman said. “New technologies have made solar generation a viable way to help us accomplish that.”
NAEC’s solar array has a warranty life of 25 years, according to a Today’s Power press release. The solar array is designed to fulfill part of the cooperative’s energy needs over that time span. NAEC currently serves over 36,000 members in seven counties.
The cooperative will be hosting educational tours of the new solar array. “We want to promote STEM-based education and careers to our students,” Coleman said. “We already have hosted three chemistry classes at the solar array and look forward to many more.”
The solar project will also be linked to wildlife conservation. Quail Forever will be working with NAEC to provide suitable habitat for pollinators and other regional wildlife.