LITTLE ROCK BOARD OF DIRECTORS Brian Chilson

The Little Rock Board of Directors took another step toward a city-owned solar array Tuesday evening with the approval of a $12 million plan to finance the acquisition, construction and installation of the project.

The ordinance approved Tuesday describes a short-term note totaling $12 million, which the city would borrow from a bank and pay back within five years. About one-third of the total cost is expected to be covered with federal funds through a repayment of investment tax credits.

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The city is planning to build a 4.9 megawatt solar project, and the board in February approved a contract with Sun Hog Solar, LLC. The next step was securing the financing, which ideally needs to be approved before September in order for Little Rock to qualify for a rate deal.

Next, city officials need to decide where they’re going to put the solar array, which is expected to take up about 50 acres. Mayor Frank Scott Jr. told directors Tuesday that officials are scouting four city-owned plots as potential building sites. Entergy is also involved in the location selection process, he said.

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If none of the locations seem like a good enough fit to Entergy staff, the city wouldn’t spend the money, Scott said. If it all falls through, the city would eat about $200,000 in contractual costs, Scott estimated.

If built, however, the solar array would be expected to save a significant amount of electrical costs — about $27 million over the next two decades, according to an estimate provided by the city. Those figures align with Scott’s goal to reach 100% clean energy for Little Rock city operations by 2030.

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The solar array would only be used to power government buildings such as City Hall; nothing would be sold to power commercial businesses or residences.