Ouachita Electric Cooperative Corporation held its 80th annual meeting in Camden on June 27. As part of the “solar powered” event, representatives from OECC, SAU Tech and Today’s Power flipped the switch on a new 1 MW solar array, which will provide roughly 75% of the college’s electricity demand.

SAU Tech Chancellor Dr. Jason Morrison welcomed attendees by saying, “Thanks for being here as we turn the tide for solar energy in the state of Arkansas.”

TPI President Michael Henderson echoed that sentiment when he called SAU Tech “trailblazers.” Henderson also said of OECC, “There isn’t a more innovative cooperative in the country.”

Additionally, Governor Asa Hutchinson spoke about his recent trip to the Paris air show, where he met with representatives of several European-based companies with zero-carbon emissions goals. The Governor said in order to recruit those firms, “we need to have alternative energy sources.”

With leaders like OECC, SAU Tech and TPI, access to advanced energy resources like solar is growing across Arkansas. As OECC CEO Mark Cayce said, “We like to think we are a part of a new landscape that’s taking shape in South Arkansas, one that includes renewable energy, high-speed broadband and world-class industries.”

As reported by Arkansas Business, SAU Tech’s solar array is the first project completed under Act 464, the law opening greater solar possibilities to government organizations, nonprofits and schools by letting them make deals to buy energy from third-party owners of solar facilities.

Cayce supported the bill in testimony before the state Legislature, citing SAU Tech’s plans as an example. “SAU Tech was looking for ways to avoid raising tuition and fees, and savings on the electric bill was something they could get from solar.”

The event closed with a solar policy discussion featuring Arkansas PSC Chairman Ted Thomas and AAEA business leaders TPI’s Michael Henderson, Scenic Hill Solar’s Bill Halter, and Seal Solar’s Heather Nelson, moderated by AAEA’s Katie Niebaum.