City holds “Flip the Switch” event at solar power plant

Miranda Holman
The City of Paris flipped the switch to on at the new solar plant located at 1022 N. Hickey Street in Paris on Thursday, August 9. In attendance was Mayor Daniel Rogers, City Council members, City Attorney Cory Wells and Michael Henderson, President of Today's Power, Inc.

Paris officials flipped the switch to "on" Thursday when they dedicated the 1.5 Megawatt (MW) solar power energy plant that was installed in collaboration with Today's Power, Inc. (TPI) of North Little Rock. This event marked the start of increasing opportunities for the City of Paris.

According to Mayor Daniel Rogers, "The city is committed to being a "Green Community, "and we want to lead by example from the city level on behalf of our residents, students, businesses and utility providers — showing the state and the rest of the country that promoting low-carbon projects not only fosters clean energy and efficiency — it also creates incentives for good employment and investment in the city and area."

The solar power system, stationed at 1022 N. Hickey Street, has a lifetime of at least 25 years in which the partnership between the City of Paris and Today's Power will span the entire duration. The solar field encompasses approximately nine acres of land and the power will be used to serve all the citizens of Paris.

According to a spokesperson for Today's Power, the company only installs utility-grade standards. It uses a Tier 1 solar module in all systems, which offers maximum power density, converting DC to AC power. The inverters come with a data manager that allows for remote access and custom alerts. This combination enables TPI staff to continuously monitor, troubleshoot, and of-times repair without going on site. Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative was also involved in upgrading the local distribution system to install the solar system at the location.

"This project is an exciting collaboration between the City of Paris, its wholesale provider, TPI and Arkansas Valley Electric Cooperative. This progressive project will allow the City of Paris to promote green energy to help foster economic development, which has become a major factor in siting new industrial development," said Michael Henderson, President of Today's Power, Inc.

The savings that the city will incur due to this project will be invested back into the community in various ways, including community and economic development over the next 25-years

"This project truly enhances the quality of life for its residents. This solar project was no easy feat to accomplish for the City Council and Mayor Rogers. Bringing a project of this scale online requires tremendous leadership and vision. TPI is extremely proud to partner with the City of Paris on this project."

The 1.5 MW solar array installed for the City of Paris makes up a significant portion of the city's municipal utility portfolio. According to Today's Power, the project is expected to produce 70,745,150 kWh in the coming 25-years, with the project being financed by TPI, and the company owning 100 percent of the solar array. The City of Paris will buy energy produced by the array for the 20-year deal duration, which benefits the City by lowering costs in part by preserving available federal tax incentives for investments in solar power generating systems.

"As the Mayor of Paris, I'm really proud of this Solar project. I think it will be great for our city and we will be able to say we're a green community to go along with the hydro allocation we utilize today," said Mayor Daniel Rogers. "Combining hydro and solar will result in Paris' electricity resource comprising approximately 25% clean, renewable energy for its citizens."