Searcy, Arkansas – July 17, 2019: Searcy Water Utilities has a history of staying ahead of the curve in implementing measures that improve efficiency to keep water and sewer rates low for the citizens of Searcy. Previous initiatives have included adding variable frequency drives to motors and upgrading to LED lighting. In 2018, Dan Dawson, General Manager of Searcy Water Utilities, saw an opportunity for solar power to improve the utility by reducing electric costs, and issued a public Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for Energy Services Companies. After an evaluation of qualifications, Searcy Water Utilities selected Entegrity Energy Partners, an energy services company and solar developer headquartered in Little Rock.
Over the months that followed, Entegrity presented Searcy Water Utilities with a variety of options for the size of the system, location, and financing options. On Wednesday July 17, the Searcy Board of Public Utilities approved the final agreement that is projected to save the utility seven million dollars throughout the life of the project. “Over the past year, we have done our due diligence and have concluded that a solar agreement with Entegrity will greatly benefit our customers by allowing us to reduce costs on electricity. These savings allow us to invest more into our system without increasing water rates. Keeping water and sewer rates low helps bring jobs to Searcy. We look forward to working with Entegrity in the coming months to bring this project to completion,” said Searcy Water Utilities’ Dawson. Under the terms of the agreement, Entegrity will build, own, and operate solar arrays for the use of Searcy Water Utilities at two different locations—a 1.2 MW array at the wastewater plant and an additional 4.5 MW array at an offsite location.
Searcy Water Utilities has a storied history, dating as far back as 1896 when the Searcy Manufacturing Company was given the exclusive rights to service the city. In the 1920’s, the citizens of Searcy voted to sell the water system to the father of a famous actress. In the 1930’s and 1940’s, improvements were made allowing the system to service ten times more people, playing an important part in the growth of Searcy and the surrounding communities. Since 1948, the Water Utility has been owned by the City, but operated by the Searcy Board of Public Utilities and today, serves over 10,000 connections in Searcy and White County.
“The staff and board members of Searcy Water Utilities have been great to work with throughout this process. By partnering with Entegrity, Searcy Water Utilities was able to utilize federal tax credits to lower their project cost. Once the utility understood the transaction, the decision really became a no-brainer,” said Sam Selig, Entegrity’s Water Division Director. The project is expected to be completed in the first half of 2020, following approval from the Public Services Commission.
“This project is going put us in a better financial position. Just as important, it goes to show that Searcy, Arkansas is continuously improving, part of what makes us one of the greatest communities in the state. With as big of a role as renewable energy is going to play in the coming years, I am excited for our kids and grandkids to see these installations and begin to think about their possibilities,” noted Dawson.
“For Searcy Water Utilities to approve a project like this shows that its board is looking out for its customers and the future of the utility,” Entegrity’s Selig added. Entegrity develops and has completed solar installations for water utilities, cities, counties, state agencies, school districts, and universities throughout Arkansas and the surrounding states.