by Tyler Hale
These days, Stuttgart isn’t only known for its ducks and rice. It is increasingly becoming a center for solar energy in Arkansas.
This Delta town, an internationally recognized hub for duck hunting and the outdoors, has made significant investments in solar energy. In 2019, the City of Stuttgart partnered with Scenic Hill Solar to develop a 3.15-megawatt solar plant that is designed to power the city’s governmental operations. The project is expected to save the city $100,000 annually in utility bills and is slated to be completed in the first quarter of 2020.
One of Stuttgart’s largest employers has also gotten in on the solar act in a big way. Producers Rice Mill announced in November 2019 its plans to build the state’s largest commercial solar array and energy storage facility with the help of Scenic Hill Solar. The rice mill is planning to build a 26-megawatt solar power plant with 40 mega-watts of storage capacity.
Now, the city’s school district is making the transition to solar power with the help of Scenic Hill Solar. The Stuttgart School District and Scenic Hill Solar are planning to develop two solar power plant that are designed to offset the district’s electricity consumption by more than $7 million over the course of 30 years.
“Scenic Hill Solar is excited to partner with the Stuttgart School District to provide the benefits of solar power,” Bill Halter, CEO of Scenic Hill Solar, said in a statement. “The Stuttgart community has embraced solar power for its financial benefits and now for its educational benefits as well. We look forward to constructing two world class solar power plants that will provide clean electricity for Stuttgart for generations to come. We are delighted that Stuttgart School District will be providing a 21st Century education powered by 21st Century electricity generation.”
One of the power plants will be a 200 kW plant located near the district’s main campus, and the second plant will be a 1.3 megawatt single-axis tracking system located in Stuttgart. Together, the two systems will generate 2.5 million kilowatt-hours of electricity for the school district annually.
Construction on the two solar plants is slated to begin in the second quarter of 2020 with operation beginning in the fourth quarter of 2020. According to a Scenic Hill Solar news release, the project is expected to provide a stimulus of $2 million to the local economy as a result of capital investment and new jobs.
The Stuttgart School District isn’t the only school recently that has made the leap to solar power. The Centerpoint School District announced in late December 2019 plans to build a solar power plant to power 100 percent of its school operations. This 1.04 megawatt power plant, also developed by Scenic Hill Solar, is expected to be completed and operational by the end of 2020.