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Lincoln council OKs solar power proposal

by Lynn Kutter | October 31, 2020 at 1:00 a.m.

LINCOLN — The city will turn to solar energy to meet most of the government’s electrical power needs for an estimated savings of about $11,000 per year.

The City Council last approved a proposal from Today’s Power of North Little Rock, for a solar services project.

Council member Terry Bryson said he supported the project.

“I think it’s something we can do that’s progressive, and I think it will be good for the city,” Bryson said.

The resolution approved by the council on Oct. 20 authorizes Mayor Doug Hutchens to sign a 20-year contract with Today’s Power for solar power services.

Lincoln receives electrical power from both Ozarks Electric Cooperative and SWEPCO. For solar energy, Today’s Power will install two systems for the city, one in Ozarks’ service territory and the other in SWEPCO’s service territory.

Matt Irving, vice president of operations with Today’s Power, told council members the company is looking at land on Bethel Blacktop for a 2.8 megawatt system that would produce solar energy for multiple customers in Ozarks’ service territory.

Chris Bell, vice president of finance and administration, last week said the land on Bethel Blacktop has about 20 acres and this facility would serve the city, Lincoln School district, a private company and several other schools and municipalities.

“The combined size of it will be one of our largest in the state,” Bell said in a telephone interview.

According to Irving, this system should go online in June 2021. Each customer will have a separate meter.

The company doesn’t have a site secured yet in the SWEPCO service territory but is considering land in the Lincoln area, Irving said.

As part of the contract the city would agree to purchase all solar energy generated for its use. Today’s Power will own and maintain the systems. The city will not have any upfront costs.

The city’s cost will be 5 cents per kilowatt hour and this is a fixed charge for the 20-year contract.

Future rate increases from Ozarks Electric or SWEPCO will not affect the rate charged by Today’s Power for solar energy, Irving said. As a comparison, the city now pays 16.42 cents per kilowatt hour for Ozarks and 7.22 cents per kilowatt hour for SWEPCO.

The company’s proposal shows the city would have an average annual savings of $5,200 for Ozarks and $5,000 for SWEPCO for an average total savings of $11,000 per year. It’s estimated the city would save about $250,000 over 25 years.

In other action, the council:

• Approved an appropriation of $57,780 to Core & Main to purchase 280 radio-read water meters.

• Authorized a contract for a part-time code enforcement officer. Tom Pennel will serve in the position and will be paid $17 per hour not to exceed 20 hours per week.

• Amended the city’s Unified Development Code for sections that deal with fences on corner lots and fences around in-ground swimming pools.

• Approved an amended interlocal agreement for Washington County Regional Ambulance Authority.

The amended agreement says the annual fee will be based on the estimated population each year as provided by Northwest Arkansas Council. Those involved in the authority include Washington County and all cities in the county.

For 2021, Lincoln’s subsidy will be $15,638,or $6.16 per capita.

Lynn Kutter may be reached by email at [email protected]

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