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Farmington School District breaks ground for new solar arrays

by SPECIAL TO NWA DEMOCRAT-GAZETTE | April 17, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.

FARMINGTON -- The Farmington School Board and school administrators gathered April 8 with school staff and those from the community to celebrate the groundbreaking of the district's new solar arrays.

Located adjacent to Farmington High School on Arkansas 170, the 499-kilowatt array is one of three arrays that will help the district accomplish its goals to operate sustainably and create savings for salary initiatives.

Another array is under construction behind Williams Elementary in Farmington and the third array is part of a 100-acre cooperative installation in Booneville that will serve the city of Booneville and the Farmington and Fayetteville school districts, according to Adam Ness, chief of staff with Entegrity.

In 2021, the Farmington School District partnered with the Arkansas Energy Office to implement an energy savings performance contract, wherein a state-approved company implements energy-efficient upgrades that pay for themselves. The School Board chose Entegrity to audit their facilities and implement a tailored scope of work to include LED lighting, solar energy installations, water conservation measures, new HVAC equipment, HVAC tune-ups, controls upgrades and emergency power generation.

Currently halfway through completion, the project is guaranteed by Entegrity to produce savings of nearly $300,000 annually and more than $6 million over the project's lifetime.

Superintendent Jon Laffoon stated, "This project will bring positive outcomes to our School District and our community for decades to come."

Board President Travis Warren added, "We look forward to having these arrays from an energy savings perspective and so our students can have first-hand experience with renewable energy, one of the fastest-growing occupations of the next decade."

The comprehensive project is funded by a variety of sources, including federal relief funds, investment tax credits and a second lien bond.

"All the credit goes to our board," added Laffoon, "for moving forward on this project when we did. By staying agile and responsive throughout the pandemic, our School District was able to make wise use of one-time federal funds, create a safer school environment for staff and students by replacing aging HVAC units, and benefit from record-low interest rates and new state legislation."

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