Camden News – January 29, 2020

South Central Service Cooperative (SCSC) held a gathering to announce the cooperative’s new solar project in partnership with Today’s Power, Inc. (TPI) of Little Rock. Also announcing their solar powered partnership with TPI was Bearden School District (BSD). Several local officials were present such as the Mayor of Camden, Julian Lott, as well as leadership from Ouachita Electric Cooperative (OECC), to explain the project and celebrate the leadership and vision of SCSC and BSD.

Out of the 15 education service cooperatives in Arkansas, SCSC is the first to install a campus-based solar system, and following their lead, BSD is the first SCSC member school to adopt solar. As two of the pioneering educational institutions in the state with sustainability initiatives, looking to reduce their carbon footprint while also improving student quality of life, these projects are part of the District’s ambitious initiatives around reducing operational costs.

South Central Service Cooperative (SCSC)

Working with TPI to install a 100 kW fixed-tilt solar array near their headquarters, SCSC Director, Karen Kay McMahen said that, “South Central Service Cooperative is dedicated to innovation and sustainability in reducing our carbon footprint; this solar initiative will not only benefit the services provided by the cooperative but sets an example for our community and the state of Arkansas of what can be achieved when collaborating with electric cooperatives.”

The SCSC solar array is projected to save the cooperative annually by offsetting energy usage, and to generate 186,584 kWh in its first year of product. This is enough to roughly supply 99% of SCSC’s energy usage with solar in year one.

The SCSC solar project began when the director reached out to staff at OECC seeking a solution for lower energy bills. OECC met with the staff at SCSC and performed an assessment of the facilities. It was suggested that SCSC consider solar energy as a power alternative. “Initially, I reached out to Karen Kay about a DOE grant for solar adoption in rural communities. I asked TPI for their assistance in writing the grant, which led to them offering SCSC a purchase power agreement. The agreement with TPI is a win-win for SCSC, OECC and the surrounding school districts. The savings from the purchase power agreement are redirected into services for our school districts, our children, and our community.” Leslie Holloway, manager of member services at OECC.

Bearden School District (BSD)

Shortly after, BSD followed SCSC’s lead, and decided to save with solar by installing a 400-kW system. Bearden School District’s Superintendent, Denny Rozenberg, said the solar facility is one way in which the district can be fiscally responsible and energy friendly. “As a public-school district, we feel it is our duty and obligation to use all available resources to be fiscally responsible. The development of a clean, renewable energy system for our campus is an outstanding example of action to that goal” he said.

The solar array is projected to save Bearden School District approximately $25,000 annually. Through the solar array, Bearden Schools will generate 790,000 kWh each year, and gather roughly 90 percent of its energy while Entergy will provide the remaining 10 percent of Bearden’s energy needs. Construction will move forward upon approval of preliminary interconnection site review.

According to TPI President, Michael Henderson, “Investing in local communities provides a direct benefit to South Central Service Cooperative and Bearden schools, and the community, as a resource for students to learn about renewable energy technology. The desire by the South Central Service Cooperative and Bearden School Boards and leaderships to position themselves as leaders in progressive education is something for which the parents and students can be proud.”