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Phillips County to get solar array

Phillips County government is going solar.

The county entered a contract with Entegrity, a Little Rock company, to install a 400 kilowatt-hour-capacity solar array near a new county building also under construction off U.S. 49, according to a county news release. The county can add more solar power to the array and anticipates generating 593,000 kWhs of energy annually.

Phillips County is an early entrant into the solar power foray for local governments. Clarksville also uses solar panels.

Organizations and individual property owners have installed solar panels in recent years using special financing programs to purchase ever-cheaper solar panels. When an entity generates its own power without a fuel source, it oftencan recoup its investment in the solar panels through electricity-bill savings.

Phillips County expects to save $81,380 annually in electricity costs and more than $2 million over the lifetime of the solar panels, the news release said.

County tagged as critical water area

Monroe County is now a part of Arkansas' critical groundwater area, after a vote by the Arkansas Natural Resources Commission board last week.

The designation is used to identify areas that rely on aquifers that have diminishing water supplies. The commission's 2014 state water plan projected that current groundwater use in the state's south and east will be unsustainable.

A person who takes on conservation projects can claim a 50% tax credit on the project in a critical groundwater area. Such projects could be building a reservoir to collect rainwater to use for irrigation or using more efficient irrigation techniques.

The Monroe County Conservation District board of directors asked the commission for the designation in May of 2018. It and farmers believed that the designation would "open up many avenues" for funding and assistance related to water projects.

Monroe County's County Judge Larry Taylor, the Monroe County Farm Bureau and the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Research and Extension Service also wrote letters to the commission in support of the designation.

The commission held a public hearing in March and recommended the designation at its May meeting Wednesday, finding that the aquifer levels in the county have gone down by a few feet since 2007 and have caused geological changes. Commissioners approved the recommended designation without dissent.

Metro on 05/19/2019

Print Headline: Phillips County to get solar array County tagged as critical water area

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