The Arkansas Public Service Commission has approved the Entergy Arkansas Driver Solar Project, a new 250-MWAC/312 MWDC renewable energy facility developed by Lightsource bp, which will be located on approximately 2,100 acres near Osceola, Arkansas in Mississippi County. Driver Solar will be the utility’s largest solar facility, capable of generating enough energy to power more than 40,000 homes.
“Driver Solar adds highly economic, renewable generation to our portfolio, further diversifying our energy mix in a way that meets our customers’ evolving expectations,” said Laura Landreaux, president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas. “It is a key contribution toward business expansion in Northeast Arkansas, and we are excited to be a part of it. We are listening to our customers as we develop and execute our generation strategy for the future. We are privileged to be able to work closely with U. S. Steel Corporation to develop sustainable solutions to help them meet their objective of producing steel using renewable electricity while simultaneously lowering rates over the long term for all 728,000-plus Entergy Arkansas customers.”
The Driver Solar site is located along Arkansas Highway 61 near Carson Lake Road and Arkansas Highway 198, just south of Osceola, and will be situated adjacent to both the U. S. Steel’s Big River Steel facility and the recently announced $3 billion expansion. Lightsource bp has completed the development and permitting of the solar field and will build the facility under a build-transfer agreement with Entergy Arkansas. Driver Solar has an expected completion date in late 2024.
“This project with Entergy Arkansas and Lightsource bp illustrates the importance of partnerships,” said Richard Fruehauf, senior VP, chief strategiest and sustainability officer for U. S. Steel. “Driver Solar not only helps us meet our robust sustainability goals, but it will also help us deliver sustainable steel solutions for our customers. The renewable energy generated will power the production of verdeXTM, our advanced sustainable steel product, which is composed of up to 90% recycled steel content, as well as other products produced at our Big River Works facility.”
In November 2021, Lightsource bp and bp announced a procurement deal with U.S.-based First Solar for 5.4 GW of First Solar modules. First Solar produces American-made solar modules at its integrated manufacturing complex in Ohio. All 250 MW of the Driver Solar project will be generated using thin-film modules manufactured by First Solar and solar trackers manufactured by Albuquerque-based Array Technologies.
“The Driver Solar project is another demonstration of how solar can power our country’s industry with cost-competitive, clean, dependable electricity,” said Kevin Smith, Lightsource bp’s CEO of the Americas. “Arkansas’s largest solar project will help build American-made sustainable steel, as well as create hundreds of U.S. jobs for construction and across the supply chain.”
Driver Solar is expected to provide between 350 and 400 jobs during the construction phase, using a local workforce and subcontractors.
Upon completion, Entergy Arkansas plans to employ outside services for site maintenance, such as land management and vegetation control, operations, office rent, team payroll and other items likely to have a local impact. In addition, the property taxes associated with Entergy Arkansas’ ownership of the project are conservatively estimated to be an approximate average of $1.2 million for Mississippi County annually over the life of the project, or roughly $36 million in 30 years.
“Driver Solar enables U. S. Steel to grow its business in Arkansas, meet their sustainability goals, and further demonstrates how the State of Arkansas and Entergy Arkansas support companies that provide high-paying jobs grow in the state,” said Mike Preston, Arkansas secretary of commerce.
The Driver Solar project is another milestone in the modernization of the Entergy Arkansas power generation portfolio, and beyond providing emissions-free energy generation, the project will promote biological diversity and sustainability by hosting two Monarch butterfly habitat areas to exceed 70 acres.
News item from Entergy Arkansas