Fayetteville solar panel system connects to grid

Ward 4 City Council Member Kyle Smith (left) and Mayor Lioneld Jordan pose for a photo at the Westside Water Treatment Facility on Sept. 6 in west Fayetteville.

City of Fayetteville

Both of Fayetteville’s wastewater treatment facilities are now running on solar power.

Officials this month held a “flip the switch” event to celebrate the project that’s expected to save the city $180,000 per year in energy costs.

Fayetteville partnered with Ozarks Electric Cooperative and Today’s Power Inc. to install solar panels at the Noland Wastewater Treatment Facility and the Westside Water Treatment Facility.

The systems include three solar farms and two battery storage facilities across 87 acres at the two plants, which are the city’s largest electricity-consuming facilities. Combined, the two plants make up about 67% of the overall electricity used by city-owned accounts.

Power generation began in July, and a complete interconnection was established in late August.

The project is a major step toward Fayetteville’s goal of running completely on clean energy, as it’s expected to raise clean energy consumption by city facilities from 16% to 72%.

“Climate change is affecting cities around the world,” said Fayetteville Mayor Lioneld Jordan. “The City of Fayetteville is committed to honoring goals of the Kyoto Protocol and the Paris Climate Agreement, starting right here in our own community.”

The capacity of the entire operation totals 10 megawatts of new solar generation with 24 megawatt-hours of on-site energy storage. The system uses solar photovoltaic panel arrays mounted on a sun tracking system that generates about 15% more electricity than stationary mounts for peak solar exposure.

City of Fayetteville

Any excess electricity will be sent to the electrical grid for use by Ozarks Electric, or relayed to the battery storage facility, which can store 12 megawatt hours of electricity. Ozarks Electric will use stored electricity to provide power to its members during peak-consumption times like summer.

Today’s Power will provide full operations and maintenance of the solar arrays and energy storage facilities, leasing the necessary acreage from the city. Ozarks Electric will upgrade and maintain existing electricity connections at the sites. Today’s Power will own 99% of the solar systems, and Fayetteville will own 1%. Today’s Power will own 100% of the storage systems.

“We want to lead by example for our residents, students, businesses, and utility partners—showing the nation that supporting low-carbon initiatives not only promotes renewable energy and efficiency—it also creates opportunities for good jobs and investments in the Northwest Arkansas region,” said Jordan. “This incredible project demonstrates Fayetteville’s commitment.”