The Ashley County Quorum Court heard a presentation from a representative of a solar energy company about a new law that could potentially save the county money in energy expenses.
Rick Vance, the regional director for Integrity, spoke to the court on Tuesday afternoon regarding a solar energy contract between his company and the county.
Arkansas was one of a handful of states that did not allow third-party financing or leasing of solar arrays, but a bill signed in March has changed that.
Vance said that his company is contracting with cities and school districts to bring solar energy in to help reduce energy expenses.
“We will find, build, own and operate a solar facility on your land and sell you power cheaper than you are buying it now,” Vance said.
The estimated cost saving for the county is approximately $20,000 per year.
According to the contract presented, Integrity would be 100 percent responsible for maintenance of the facility.
Vance said that his company hopes to bring the City of Hamburg and its school district into the equation as well, but he needed to hear from the county as the other two governing bodies do not have the requisite amount of land.
“It’s a great way to bring everyone in and let you work together,” Vance said.
Under the arrangement, Integrity would lease land from the county to build and maintain the solar facility and sell power back to the county, and potentially the city and school district, should they all agree.
Vance brought information from the solar plant that his company installed for Batesville School District and said that it was the largest plant in Arkansas.
Integrity will present the court with a contract and the matter will be discussed again at next month’s meeting.
If approved, the solar plant will be installed on the 15 acres that the county owns near the county jail.
In other news:
-Justice Hiram Taylor announced he would be moving out of state and resigned his position on the court.
-Justice Ricky Simms announced that changes were being made to the 911 system and he would soon update the court with that information.
-The court approved three ordinances that involved financial transactions. One was an ordinane to correct a clerical error. The other two ordinances involved paying off balances.
The court approved that $216, 378.11 be paid to Citizens Bank to pay off the county’s new election equipment. The other ordinance was to pay off the garbage truck lease for approximately $35,000. County Treasurer Stacy Breshears told the court that there was approximately $15,000 still left over after cashing out a Certificate of Deposit to pay off the truck. The court voted for the extra money to go back into a CD specifically for solid waste expenses.
-The court approved the renewel of the lease agreement for the county hospital facility with the Ashley County Medical Center Foundation.