Southern Arkansas University Tech (SAU Tech) has completed and unveiled its new 1-megawatt solar facility. Occupying 10 acres, this facility is set to provide approximately 70 percent of the educational institution’s energy needs.
Speaking at the Ouachita Electric Cooperative’s (OECC) 80thannual meeting,Dr. Jason Morrison, SAU Tech Chancellor, said SAU Tech is working to take the lead among Arkansas high education institutions in terms of adopting solar technology. This innovation, he says, is one way of spurring growth in South Arkansas.
“SAU Tech is proud to be the leader among Arkansas’ higher education institutions in looking to solar technology to reduce energy costs. Our vision is to incorporate long-term efficiency in the operation of our campus to keep college affordable for students and to be good stewards of our state dollars,” he says. “Our partnership with Today’s Power and OECC is an example of how innovation is accessible to all of us, and it is the vehicle for growth and prosperity in South Arkansas.”
Working with Today’s Power Inc., SAU Tech has built a single-axis tracking solar array that features 3,344 panels, which is designed to be sustainable for more than 25 years. The solar facility, which is located near Ouachita Electric Cooperation’s solar array in Holly Springs.
The energy savings from the solar array, Morrison says, “will be used to invest back into the institution, students and the future of the college and our community.”
When SAU Tech began the process of seeking a solar partner, the institution conducted a bid process and selected Today’s Power. The groundbreaking for the project occurred in February 2019.
Michael W. Henderson, President of TPI, said, “We are so proud to have been selected to partner with SAU Tech and Ouachita Electric in developing this project. The unique ownership partnership with SAU Tech makes us partners for the next 20 years, and I couldn’t think of any other institution that fits our culture so well. This project has had to overcome a lot of hurdles with educating and obtaining Arkansas Public Service Commission approval and withstanding challenges by traditional utilities who sought to prevent this split ownership Net Metering transaction structure. We are appreciative of the persistence of SAU Tech’s leadership for this project.”
In 2019, Today’s Power has developed five utility-scale solar projects. The company also has 12 projects in development or in construction for the remainder of 2019.