Leslie Holloway of Ouachita Electric, far left, joins Bearden Mayor Ginger Bailey and Today’s Power representative Michael Henderson, far right, and Bearden City Council members.

Ground was broken Monday at one of two sites where the City of Bearden is collaborating with Today’s Power, Inc., on two new 200-kilowatt (kW) solar power systems for municipal use.

Mayor Ginger Bailey, Bearden City Council members, leaders of Ouachita Electric Cooperative (OECC), and executives at Today’s Power, Inc. (TPI) attended the event.

“The City of Bearden places a high value on being excellent stewards of our natural resources,” Mayor Bailey said. “Bearden is committing to contribute to a healthy environment while also saving the city money through this solar project. We will be able to accomplish both thanks to our partnership with Today's Power.”

Once constructed, the city will only be responsible for purchasing the kilowatt-hours (kWh) generated from the systems, not for their ongoing operation and maintenance. These two variables work together to keep the city's energy costs stable and manageable.

“Working together, we will help the city increase their resources for renewable energy and help the city, our member, save on their energy. These projects are an example of how utilities and large-scale power consumers can meet the needs of the future through innovation and partnership,” said Mark Cayce, general manager of Ouachita Electric Cooperative.

This project came to be after the city conducted a Request for Proposal (RFP) process, which enabled the city to secure competitive long-term pricing with TPI. During the design phase, the two 200-kW solar arrays will be tailored to ensure maximum efficiency. Construction will begin in the early fall.

TPI, a renewable energy company formed by Arkansas rural electric cooperatives, will build and own the solar arrays, while OECC and Entergy will maintain the sites' existing electricity connections. Over the last five years, TPI has installed more than 40 renewable energy projects totaling more than 60 megawatts in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Tennessee.

“To be successful, a project like this demands exceptional vision, leadership, and collaboration,” said Michael Henderson, President of TPI. “Special thanks to Mayor Bailey and the Bearden City Council, Ouachita Electric Cooperative General Manager Mark Cayce, and all of their teams for their dedication to the project's success,” he said.

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