The largest universal solar power plant in Arkansas opened this week in Arkansas County.

The Solar Energy Center, located approximately seven miles southeast of Stuttgart and 50 miles northeast of Pine Bluff near the Almyra community, welcomed the Governor of Arkansas, Asa Hutchinson, and other local and state officials at a ceremony on Tuesday.

Approximately 75 people attended, including Stuart McCurdy, director of renewable development for NextEra Energy Resources.

“Solar energy is good for Arkansans and good for our economy,” Hutchinson said. “Arkansas has many great natural resources. It’s wonderful we are now also utilizing the sun to provide clean energy to the state and drive our economy forward.”

The Stuttgart Solar Energy Center spans 475 acres, with construction lasting eight months and generating a significant economic boost to Arkansas County and the state. The construction of the energy source created hundreds of construction jobs and stimulated the purchase of regional goods and services from more than a dozen of local vendors, according to state officials.

“We are pleased to work with our partners at Entergy to bring the largest solar energy center in Arkansas,” Armando Pimentel, president and CEO of NextEra Energy Resources, said.

Pimentel added that this solar energy project will provide millions of dollars in additional tax revenue to Arkansas County and will generate cost-effective, home-grown solar energy for Entergy customers for years to come.

The facility features more than 350,000 photovoltaic solar panels that convert the sun’s energy into electricity. The solar energy center has a capacity to generate 81 megawatts of electricity or enough power more than 13,000 homes.

“Without the partnership with Entergy Arkansas, we couldn’t make this happen,” Pimentel said.

A subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources built the facility and will own and operate it. The energy will serve Entergy Arkansas customers under a 20-year per purchase agreement.

“Over our 105 years in business, Entergy Arkansas has generated power with sawdust, water, coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear and now the sun,” Rick Riley, president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas, said.

“Through this investment with NextEra Energy Resources, we are further diversifying our power generation resource mix and providing Entergy Arkansas customers with access to additional clean, renewable and affordable energy.”

Over its operational life, The Stuttgart Solar Energy Center is expected to generate nearly $8 million in additional revenue for Arkansas County, with much of that funding going to help Arkansas County Public Schools.

“We are already seeing the project’s impact in Arkansas County through new jobs and school funding,” Bethany Hildebrand, executive director and CEO of the Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce, said. “We are thrilled to his the state’s largest solar facility and know it will continue to provide benefits to our community.”

During the ceremony, Pimentel presented two checks in the amount of $5,000 each to The Stuttgart Chamber of Commerce, with Hildebrand accepting the check and Tia Brickey and Tawnya Herring, founders of the Summer Reading Bookmobile of Park Avenue Elementary School, accepting another check.

Facts about NextEra Resources LLC

• Is a clean energy leader and is one of the largest wholesale generators of electric power in the United States.

• With more than 19,000 megawatts of net generating capacity, primarily in 32 states and Canada as of year-end 2017, together with its affiliated entries, it is the world’s largest operator of renewable energy form the wind and sun.

• Operates clean, emissions-free nuclear power generation facilities in New Hampshire, Iowa and Wisconsin as part of the NextEra Energy nuclear fleet, which is one of the largest in the United States.

• Is a subsidiary of Juno Beach, Florida-based NextEra Energy, Inc.

Entergy Arkansas facts

• Provides electricity to approximately 700,000 customers in 63 countries.

• Subsidiary of Entergy Corporation, an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations.

• Owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including nearly 10,000 megawatts of nuclear power.

• Delivers electricity to 2.8 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas.

• Has annual revenues of approximately $11.5 billion and more than 13,000 employees.