The City of Eureka Springs has been discussing the potential for solar for several years prior to Arkansas’s new solar laws being written. In search of ways to reduce utility spending at their wastewater facility and city offices, city officials considered several proposals to combine the cost savings of energy efficiency with renewable energy. With the passage of the Solar Access Act in 2019, the would-be project’s economics significantly improved, and the city executed an agreement with Entegrity in early February.
The efforts of Arkansas legislators, including Sen. Bob Ballinger and Rep. Harlan Breaux, have enabled cost-effective clean energy projects like the one being undertaken by the City of Eureka Springs. The new solar law has kick-started Arkansas’s renewable energy sector, resulting in job growth throughout the state amid a wave of new solar projects.
Under the terms of the agreement with Entegrity, a developer and contractor headquartered in Little Rock with an office in Fayetteville, Eureka Springs will purchase solar energy at a known rate for the next 25 years, resulting in lifetime savings of more than $750,000.
Because of the unique budget constraints faced by smaller cities, Eureka Springs officials are eager to implement the project. The savings generated will be a significant component of improving the city’s annual budget.
Eureka Springs Mayor Butch Berry, said, “We’ve been working with Entegrity since last fall to bring this project to fruition. We were impressed with the company’s experience and expertise. We evaluated proposals from multiple energy services companies, conducted research, and ultimately chose Entegrity. They offered us what we considered the best path towards achieving our goal of sustainability and maximizing our savings. We are bringing renewable energy to our city in a way that will benefit the city for years to come.”
The project includes a 375 kilowatt solar array that will be located in Carroll County, LED lighting upgrades for the police and fire stations, public works office, auditorium, wastewater treatment plant, and Lake Leatherwood Ballfield, as well as HVAC upgrades and water-saving measures.
“The goal of any energy project is to find ways to reduce facility-related utility and maintenance costs and reinvest that money into facility upgrades that pay for themselves,” said John Coleman, Regional Director at Entegrity. “Because the cost savings are guaranteed, the city now has a no-risk solution to improve its facilities, providing a positive impact on operating budgets.”
Combined, the city’s solar installations will produce a number of positive benefits, including:
- Generating enough energy to offset the electricity use of nearly 60 houses over the course of one year
- Reducing the need to burn more than 560,000 pounds of coal
- Reducing the same amount of carbon in the atmosphere as 664 acres of forests
- Offsetting 1,262,079 miles driven by a passenger vehicle in one year
— Solar Builder magazine