How Paris got green: With the addition of solar farm, nearly 70% of city's power comes from renewable resources

Alex Gladden
Booneville Democrat

The city of Paris buys energy from a solar farm located in town, and the power accounts for 5% to 10% of all the electricity that the town uses. 

“It’s using what God gave us to power our community," Mayor Daniel Rogers said. 

Approximately 70% of the power that Paris uses comes from hydroelectricity and solar energy.

“I just think that’s amazing," Rogers said. 

The city has been using solar energy since about July with Today's Power, a subsidiary of Arkansas Electric Cooperative, said Randy Hatcher, the city's electric superintendent. 

Randy Hatcher, the city's electric superintendent, stands in front of the solar farm's control panels.

Today's Power spent approximately $250,000 building the site, which included replacing old power line poles from the city, Rogers said. 

Today's Power owns, operates, and maintains the farm. The company also has to pay property taxes on the land. 

The city buys energy from Today's Power at 4.6 cents per kilowatt-hour. Using solar power saves the city approximately $65,000 a year. 

Most residents do not see a large impact from the savings, but the more energy consumers buy, the more savings they see. The city sees some of that savings because it uses a lot of energy to power the water and sewer plants. 

The city of Paris buys energy from the solar farm located in town.

The city of Paris still buys $4 million worth of energy a year, Rogers said. 

The Southwest Power Administration provides the hydroelectric power that the city buys. 

“Yeah when the water’s flowing good, it’s a blessing to have," Rogers said about using hydroelectricity. 

The city has been using hydroelectricity for more than 30 years, Hatcher said. 

The rest of the city's power comes from the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority, which serves numerous cities in Oklahoma and Clarksville, Rogers added. 

The Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority allows Paris to use up to 1.5 megawatts of solar energy, Hatcher said. 

The amount of energy that the solar farm produces varies from day to day. On cloudy days, the farm does not produce as much energy. The solar panels tilt with the sun and reset each morning, Hatcher said. 

Prior to choosing Today's Power for the city's solar power, Rogers looked at four different options. 

“What they offered us just fit perfectly," Rogers said about Today's Power. 

Some cities own and operate their own solar farms. Booneville is making a deal with Entegrity to have its own solar system. 

Rogers said he views using green energy as an economic development tool. Companies are looking for communities that care about using green energy. 

Paris is one of 15 cities in the state that sells residents electricity.