July 5, 2018 Read More →

Arkansas farmers tout economic benefits of solar

Magnolia Reporter:

Fields across Arkansas seem to be sprouting solar panels as multiple growers take advantage of the one thing they can count on: the sun. Solar energy is catching on with Arkansas farmers, which is a trend that is very promising for the state, said Rick Cartwright, head of the Cooperative Extension Service for the University of Arkansas System Division of Agriculture.

A.J. Hood of Desha County began using solar panels this season to power his grain storage facilities. “We started to look into solar energy about eight months ago,” Hood said. “We took the time to run the numbers and find out if this was going to be a good fit and when we looked at the long term benefits it was a no brainer. I really think this is going to catch on, it’s a great fit for growers in Arkansas.

“I only have them on a little over an acre, that’s the beauty of it,” Hood said. “We have approximately 150 kilowatts of solar panels that produce approximately 240,000 kWh in electricity annually. That is enough to reduce our electricity cost by over 75 percent. It is a substantial savings for us and it makes our grain operation much more profitable. “

Since implementing solar technology on his operation, Hood’s excitement is through the roof. “We can monitor our electricity production every minute of the day in real time, and I’ve become kind of obsessed with checking it,” Hood said. “I find myself running the numbers to see how much money I saved that day. As a farmer I’m used to praying for rain, but now I’m torn because I know those clouds are going to hurt my solar production!”

While the economics of it are reassuring, there are other bonuses that famers see. Wade Hill in Desha County came for the financial benefits, but stayed for the environmental impacts. “I heard the benefits of farm savings and that was my main reason up front,” Hill said. “But I’m really in this for the green energy aspects of it.” Hill said he has dedicated an acre and a half of land to his solar panels and uses them to power his irrigation wells.

More: Solar power gaining popularity on south Arkansas farms

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