OG&E to bring solar energy to Arkansas customers

Alex Gladden
Fort Smith Times Record
OG&E is creating its first solar farm in Arkansas.

OG&E expects to complete its first solar farm in Arkansas by the end of the year. 

The planning and development for the project began last year, said Zac Gladhill, the director of grid innovation for OG&E. 

The solar farm is located in Branch and spans about 40 acres. It is a 5-megawatt project. 

“It’s been a good time for us to start to build out more solar," Gladhill said.

Any Arkansas customer can choose to get solar energy from the project. Arkansas customers can also choose how much solar energy they want to use. They can decide to make up to 50% of their energy come from solar power.

“It lets us maintain our fuel diversity while providing a renewable energy for our customers that choose it," Gladhill said. 

The program is subscription-based, meaning people can sign up for the program. The number of people who can sign up depends on how much solar energy each person chooses to use. 

“So we can’t sell more solar than is generated," Gladhill said. 

For example, if everyone chose to use a large amount of energy, fewer people would be able to subscribe to the program. 

The rate that people pay for solar energy has to be approved by the Arkansas Public Utility Commission.  

The approval goes through several processes before OG&E has a similar program in Oklahoma. 

“This is something that we’ve had some success in Oklahoma," Gladhill said. 

The Oklahoma program has been around for a few years. It sold out its subscriptions before construction on its first farm was even completed. 

The Oklahoma program stays full on subscribers. Gladhill said he expects the Arkansas program to be similarly successful.

He also said that customers want solar energy and the low electricity rates that it provides. 

“We think this is a really great solution for customers," Gladhill said.

OG&E has been working in renewable energy since the early 2000s. The company began its efforts by starting in wind power.