The solar power array to be built in Paris got smaller last week after the Oklahoma Municipal Power Association met, according to Mayor Daniel Rogers.
The group met last Thursday and cut the amount of power to be generated by the array from two megawatts to 1.5 megawatts, Rogers said. OMPA can do that because its permission is needed to build the array since solar power generation is not part of the city’s contract to purchase power from the group.
“It’s going to be smaller in size but it’s still going to be a large system,” Rogers said. “We might negotiate the ability to do more in a later contract with them. They didn’t have to allow us to have any power from solar because it’s not in our contract. But they allowed Clarksville to do it, so they are allowing us.”
Earlier this month, the Paris City Council unanimously approved a resolution allowing Rogers to negotiate a contract with Scenic Hill Solar of North Little Rock to build a solar power array in Paris, similar to the one they built in Clarksville. Rogers said that the smaller station will generate about 7 percent of the electricity needed by the city and called that amount “still a chunk.”
“OMPA is going to work on changing our contract with them allowing us to do a solar power station,” Rogers said. “So, it’s good to have that nailed down. The biggest hurdle left is to find property for the station. We’re going to need 15 to 20 acres.”
Rogers said he is talking to Scenic Hill Solar every Thursday on a conference call. He added that the company was helping the city search for property.
“We have multiple areas to look at, we just haven’t nailed anything down yet,” he said.
The City Council will have to approve any land purchase, Rogers said.
The plant will produce a small portion of the 50 million kilowatt hours the city purchases each year from OMPA. However, the electricity generated by the plant will be much cheaper, Rogers said.
“We are currently spending nearly eight cents per kilowatt hour for electricity and the solar power plant would produce electricity for less than five cents a kilowatt hour,” Rogers said.
Scenic Hill will build and own the power plant for the first six years, allowing Scenic Hill to take advantage of federal tax credits that the city can’t take advantage of because the city is exempt from paying federal taxes.
In year six, the city would purchase the power plant from Scenic Hill. The total cost would be approximately $4 million, which would be financed over 30 years.