FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/FOX24) — The University of Arkansas will be saving green in more ways than one thanks to 25 acres of solar panels.
The university’s president signed a new services agreement with SWEPCO at the end of August. After a competitive selection process, the university selected Entegrity Energy Partners based in Little Rock to run the project, according to the university.
Entegrity will provide all capital costs, design, permitting, installation, utility interconnection, operations and maintenance of the solar panels.
The solar panel farm will be located near Nashville, Arkansas, but the university will purchase the entire energy output from the farm at a fixed rate for a 25-year contract term. Eric Boles, director of the Office of Sustainability for the university, said this location is within the SWEPCO territory.
He said this location makes sense because there is more affordable land in the southeast part of the state, it will get more hours of sunlight per year and because the land is flatter, they won’t have to cut down as many trees to build the panels.
As energy prices go up for a lot of people, he said having the fixed rate for such a long period of time will be a big money saver for the university. It’s expected save $3.1 million over that 25-year contract.
And while this will be great for the university’s budget, it will also cut the university’s greenhouse gas emissions by 8.8%.
“I think the main takeaway is that this project reduces risk saves money, and the icing on the cake is that we get carbon out of the atmosphere,” said Boles. “It’s good for the state of Arkansas.”
He expects the project will be complete by late 2023, or early 2024.
The solar panel farm is part of the university’s larger commitment to addressing climate change. In 2007, the U of A became one of the first institutions to become a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents’ Climate Commitment and establish the goal of net carbon neutrality by 2040.