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A Florida energy firm has agreed to build a 500-acre solar energy park in Arkansas County to provide electricity for Entergy Arkansas, the utility said Wednesday.

Photo by Arkansas Democrat-Gazette
A map showing the location of the proposed 500-acre solar farm.

NextEra Energy Resources of Juno Beach, Fla., an affiliate of Florida Power & Light Co., will build the 81-megawatt solar farm. The cost of the operation has not been disclosed.

NextEra bills itself as the largest generator of renewable energy in the world.

Entergy Arkansas has agreed to buy all of the power produced by the facility, known as Stuttgart Solar. It will be located about seven miles southeast of Stuttgart, near Almyra.

Many utilities need to do something to offset coal production and work toward compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency's Clean Power Plan, said David Cruthirds, a Houston-based regulatory attorney.

"Solar has dropped in price [in part] because the technology is more efficient," Cruthirds said. "I think Entergy is continuing to try to learn about solar, and this is one way for them to do that."

Entergy filed a request with the Arkansas Public Service Commission on Wednesday asking it to approve the agreement for the solar farm.

If it is approved, construction would begin on the project next year and be completed in mid-2019, Entergy said. It will generate enough energy to power about 13,000 homes, the utility said.

The solar park will consist of tens of thousands of solar panels oriented to the south, said Steven Stengel, a spokesman for NextEra.

"That is so they can capture as much of the sunlight as possible throughout the day," Stengel said.

NextEra probably won't use the entire 500 acres for the solar panels, but the majority of the land will be used, Stengel said.

Arkansas will be the 26th state where NextEra has a generating plant, Stengel said.

Entergy will build a new electric substation in Arkansas County to connect the solar facility to Entergy's transmission system.

Entergy issued requests for proposals for new electricity generation last year, said Hugh McDonald, Entergy Arkansas' chief executive officer.

"I think it makes sense for our customers long term," McDonald said. "[NextEra] will be making the physical investment of the facility."

Entergy's agreement with NextEra is for 20 years and fixes the energy price for the full term of the pact, Entergy said.

It is advantageous that Entergy has agreed to buy the power from NextEra, Cruthirds said.

"That helps stimulate the market," Cruthirds said. "If it were Entergy building the solar farm itself, that wouldn't necessarily be helping the competitive market."

In addition to the solar project, Entergy Arkansas plans to invest $2.4 billion from 2014 to 2017 on generation, transmission and distribution improvements to the state's electrical infrastructure.

That investment includes about $237 million Entergy Arkansas has agreed to pay for a fourth of the 2,200 megawatt Union Power Station, McDonald said. The company also plans to build transmission lines throughout the state, including spending more than $60 million for a transmission system in southeast Arkansas.

Entergy Arkansas has about 700,000 customers in 63 counties in the state.

Business on 04/16/2015

Print Headline: Firm to build 500-acre solar farm

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Archived Comments

  • rdh61
    April 16, 2015 at 8:30 a.m.

    It would have been helpful if the report included the cost per megawatt for the solar project and compared it to coal & natural gas. Ultimately, individual rate payers bear the cost, not Entergy or the EPA.

  • 3WorldState1
    April 16, 2015 at 8:52 a.m.

    That would have been interesting to know but not completely relevant. If the goal is to produce only the cheapest energy then we should only use coal and wood. We could even shovel the coal into our stoves.
    Bout time Arkansas starts marketing the Natural State theme more (other than fishing and hunting).
    This is a good story. Investment and jobs.

  • Bocepheus
    April 16, 2015 at 9:37 a.m.

    3rd rate's comment is revealing. Why should we know how much something costs when it's monopoly driven? Where there is no accountability there is no responsibility. Just look at the Little Rock public schools---now there is a model for the do-gooder environmentalists to emulate--and they are--just with a different monopoly. Step 1: vilify the skeptics. Step 2: hurl money at something and claim it's working----until it fails so miserably that reality is unavoidable. Step 3: appoint the same people who led us into it, to get us out it.

  • Popsmith
    April 16, 2015 at 10:01 a.m.

    Solar makes a lot of sense because it is most efficient when we need it most: in the summertime when the air conditioner is running. Of course you can install you own on your roof and take even more load off the grid.
    It is cost effective in Europe so it should be here. Google Earth shows a lot of rooftop solar panels in Europe.

  • GCW
    April 16, 2015 at 10:53 a.m.

    If global warming turns out to be a dud then I am concerned that solar collectors will absorb too much valuable heat. What if ducks mistake the collectors for water? Hunters should start suing now.

  • Packman
    April 16, 2015 at 11:09 a.m.

    Hey 3rdWorld - The article says they won't use all 500 acres. Since this sits smack dab in the middle of the Mississippi Flyway the company should enroll whatever's left in WRP and allow duck hunting. All shooting would have to take place opposite direction of the panels, but that's a minor inconvenience. This sounds like a win/win, except for that minor issue with the cost.

  • 3WorldState1
    April 16, 2015 at 11:52 a.m.

    Bodufas of course makes no sense. No one is making Entergy purchase this energy. Obviously they are doing it because they see value in it. Get out of the way and let industry work.
    Unless you know something the article didn't state, please explain why Entergy investing, and purchasing this power is a bad thing? My guess, you saw solar power and your tin hat started sparking.

  • Slak
    April 16, 2015 at 12:22 p.m.

    You see Entergy facing the reality of Obama's EPA dreadnought. We will see the cost of this expensive experiment shoved directly up our collective wazoo. Entergy is guaranteed a profit in Arkansas, so no matter what the cost of supplicating before the altar of progressive environmentalism, Joe Schmuck will pay, Entergy will prosper and Obama will build on his proglib legacy.
    ~
    The only saving grace would be the election of a Republican President who can wipe this silliness away with the same easy pen stroke that created it. Obama's legacy of rainbow-fed unicorns should be that fleeting.

  • DontDrinkDatKoolAid
    April 16, 2015 at 12:28 p.m.

    What emissions are produced and how much of those emission are released into the atmosphere that would be toxic in producing solar pannals?
    ~
    In other news, ...ht tp://ww w.washingtonpost.c om/world/solar-industry-faces-subsidy-cuts-in-europe/2012/03/10/gIQArkbXLS_story.html
    ~
    The cost of anything is completely relevant in everything we do as a society.

  • nwar
    April 16, 2015 at 3:01 p.m.

    How about supporting the idea of solar farms in AR instead factory pig farms pouring pig sh*t in our water?

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