Solar Array Project
City of Fayetteville Solar Power Trilateral Agreement
In January, 2018, The City of Fayetteville adopted an Energy Action Plan that laid out goals to make the City a more energy efficient and sustainable community. Among the high-level goals stated in that plan was to convert all City facilities to 100% clean energy by 2030.
On November 20, 2018, City Council approved a trilateral agreement between the City, Ozarks Electric Cooperative, and Today’s Power, Inc. to construct solar power arrays on a combined 87 acres near Fayetteville’s two Wastewater Treatment Facilities: the Paul R. Noland Wastewater Treatment Facility and the West Side Wastewater Treatment Facility. This project will go a long way toward achieving the City’s 100% clean energy goal.
The arrays are ground-mounted solar photovoltaic panels. The panels will be installed on a sun-tracking system that will allow for maximum solar exposure throughout the day, translating to 15% more electricity production than stationary mounts. Construction is expected to begin in spring 2019 and be complete by September 2019. Operations will begin shortly thereafter.
Currently, the City’s clean energy consumption is composed of 16% clean energy, some purchased from the electrical grid and some generated directly by power arrays at city buildings (such as the solar arrays on the roofs of the District Court building and Fayetteville Public Library). The two Wastewater Treatment plants are the City of Fayetteville’s greatest consumers of electricity, making up approximately 67% of the City’s overall consumption. The new solar arrays will generate approximately 18.3 million kWh/yr of clean energy, offsetting approximately 103% of the Wastewater Treatment Plants’ usage, increasing the City’s clean energy use from the current 16% to 72%.
- The City of Fayetteville
- Ozarks Electric Cooperative: A non-profit, member-owned electric utility cooperative headquartered in Fayetteville that provides distribution of electricity to more than 70,000 homes and businesses in nine counties in NW Arkansas and Northeast Oklahoma.
- Today’s Power Inc.: A fully owned subsidiary of the Arkansas Electric Cooperatives, Inc, created to offer community solar power to their member cooperatives who otherwise could not utilize federal solar tax incentives.
About the Agreement
According to the terms of the trilateral, 20-year agreement:
- The City of Fayetteville will lease approximately 87 acres around the Wastewater Treatment plants to Today’s Power, Inc. (This will mean giving up some revenue from spreading water treatment sludge residue and cutting hay from the Biosolids Management Site adjoining the Noland Wastewater Treatment Plant.)
- Today’s Power will build 5 MW of sun-tracking solar panels and 12 MWh of battery storage at each Wastewater facility, and will assume the costs of operating and maintaining the facilities.
- The City will purchase electricity generated by the arrays at the rate of $0.048 / kWh for the 20-year duration of the agreement. (The current price for electricity from Ozarks Electric is $0.0513 / kWh.)
- The City will own 1% of the solar array, and Today’s Power will own the remaining 99%.
- The City will assume the cost of making electric improvements to both sites to connect the arrays to the power grid. This cost will be funded from the Water/Sewer Reserve Fund.
- Ozarks Electric will pay the City to manage current back-up generators at both plants, as well as for HVAC/lighting and storage losses associated with the battery storage.
Costs and Savings
The total savings of the project over current electricity service will be approximately $182,000 per year, with a return on investment of just 4.4 years. Total savings over the 20-year life of the project will be $6 million.
Electricity Bill Savings: $939,717
Battery, HVAC & Lighting Savings: $2,500
Generator Fuel Cost Savings: $60,000
Generator Management Payment: $75,000
Battery Storage Loss Payment: $1,152
TOTAL SAVINGS $1,078,369
Solar Maintenance Agreement $20,116
Solar Electricity Cost $874,348
Loss of Hay/Sludge Spreading Revenue $22,000
TOTAL COSTS $916,464
NET ANNUAL SAVINGS $161,905
Capital cost: Site electrical
improvements, to be paid through
Water/Sewer Reserve Fund $716,946
Payback Period: 4.4 years