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Solar array planned for city of Nashville


By Don Hall

News-Leader staff

Most of us grew up assuming that when we flipped a wall switch, a light would come on. We never thought about where the electricity came from that powered the light; it was just there, and we expected it would be with us forever. 

Recent years have brought on a concern for the environment, and people in developed countries around the world have been searching for clean, renewable sources of energy. 

Enter solar power.

Nashville is doing its part to provide electricity generated by the sun. A small solar array is in operation where the old hospital once stood, and is owned by Howard County. 

A much larger array is being built on 110 acres behind Walmart, and while not belonging to Nashville—it will be owned by the University of Arkansas Agriculture Department, the Arkansas Department of Corrections, and the city of Prairie Grove—all electricity generated there will provide taxes for the city of Nashville. 

Now, after last week’s City Council meeting, Nashville will provide for some of its own power needs.

The council voted last Monday to spend $2,488,000 to build an array near Nashville High School on the old Center Point highway. Built on 8.8 acres, the solar array will produce 1 megawatt, which is enough energy to power 164 US homes. 

Mayor Billy Ray Jones signed a contract last Wednesday with McKinstry Industries of Little Rock, and the electricity should be flowing by this coming July.

The project, according to Mayor Jones, was financed by selling municipal bonds and will be paid for over the next 18 years. 

During that time it will be revenue-neutral—the cost will be paid for by the electricity generated. The expected life of the array is at least 25 years, and after year 18, all electricity sold, a minimum of $4 million over 7 years, will go directly into the city’s coffers.

The next time you turn on a light or change the thermostat in your house, think about where that electricity comes from. 

While the federal government says that solar power only accounts for 5% of energy generated in the US, it’s been growing by 1% per year, and solar energy striking the earth daily is more than 10,000 times the total energy needs of the entire world.