Conway Corp., the public utility in the Faulkner County seat, announced Friday that it’s embracing solar energy through a 20-year agreement to buy discount sun power from Lightsource BP, a global solar leader planning to build a 132-megawatt array in neighboring White County.
The city utility’s board of directors approved the power-purchase agreement under which Lightsource, partly owned by the former British Petroleum, will put solar panels on 700 acres near Happy, just north of Griffithville and about 55 miles from Conway.
Lightsource will finance, build and own the power plant and deliver the power under a fixed rate that is below current prices. The clean energy will be enough to power more than 21,000 homes, the city utility said.
“We are committed to providing safe, reliable, affordable and innovative and environmentally sound service to our customers,” Conway Corp. CEO Bret Carroll said in a statement. “This solar project checks all of those boxes.”
He called the purchase agreement “a great long-range strategy in our continued efforts to serve our customers with excellence.” The company said the construction project would create 250 jobs.
Kevin Smith, CEO of the Americas for Lightsource BP said, “We applaud Conway Corp. for taking the lead in delivering the many benefits of solar energy to its customers and look forward to our continued collaboration as we work to bring this exciting project online. We believe renewable and affordable solar energy is an important part of the state’s future energy mix, and we’re dedicated to making it a positive contribution to local communities.”
Lightsource said that with its model of developing, owning and operating projects, the company is poised to partner with local communities, offering community engagement, maximum local economic benefits, and development of site-specific long-term land management plans. The White County project is expected to go online at the end of 2022, the companies said.
Conway Corp. operates the city-owned utility system providing electric, water, wastewater, cable, internet, telephone and security services within the Conway city limits. It was created in 1929 when the Conway City Council organized the corporation to operate the city’s electric light plant and to raise revenue to help keep Hendrix College and Central Baptist College in town.
Lightsource BP is a 50-50 joint venture with BP determined to help drive the world’s transition to low-carbon energy through competitively priced and sustainable electricity. Its company goal is to deliver 10 gigawatts of solar capacity by 2023.