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South Arkansas Educational Cooperative, School District Go Solar

Arkansas

Mayor Julian Lott (Camden), Mark Cayce (GM of Ouachita Electric Cooperative), Michael Henderson
(President of TPI), Karen Kay McMahen (Director at SCSC), and Jim Tucker (SCSC Board President)

by Tyler Hale

Two South Arkansas educational institutions are partnering with Today’s Power Inc. to develop and install solar arrays for their respective campuses. South Central Service Cooperative (SCSC) and Bearden School District are working with TPI, wholly owned subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Inc., as they adopt solar energy.

SCSC is installing a 100 kW fixed-tilt solar array near its Camden headquarters, while the Bearden School District is installing a 400 kW solar facility.

Both facilities are designed to offset the institutions’ energy usage, saving them money. In its first year, the SCSC solar array is expected to generate 186,584 kWh, which accounts for roughly 99 percent of its energy usage. Bearden’s solar array is set to generate 90 percent of the school district’s energy – approximately 790,000 kWh on an annual basis. According to a Today’s Power news release, this will save the district $25,000 per year in energy costs.

According to SCSC Director Karen Kay McMahen, the move to solar functions to reduce the cooperative’s carbon footprint by adopting sustainable energy while also providing cost savings.

“South Central Service Cooperative is dedicated to innovation and sustainability in reducing our carbon footprint; this solar initiative will not only benefit the services provided by the cooperative but sets an example for our community and the state of Arkansas of what can be achieved when collaborating with electric cooperatives.”

“Initially, I reached out to Karen Kay about a DOE grant for solar adoption in rural communities.  I asked TPI for their assistance in writing the grant, which led to them offering SCSC a purchase power agreement,” Leslie Holloway, member services manager at Ouachita Electric Cooperative (OECC). “The agreement with TPI is a win-win for SCSC, OECC and the surrounding school districts.  The savings from the purchase power agreement are redirected into services for our school districts, our children, and our community.” 

Both SCSC and the Bearden School District fall within OECC’s service region, which includes parts of five counties centered around Camden.

The Bearden School District’s purchase agreement followed the SCSC’s decision to move to solar power. Bearden is a SCSC-member school.

The SCSC project is slated to be completed by May 2020, according to TPI Marketing and Public Relations Coordinator Jennah Denney. The Bearden project is expected to be completed in the second quarter of 2020 pending approval of the project’s preliminary interconnection and site review.

READ MORE: SWAECC Breaks Ground on Solar Array in Texarkana

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