Local farmers take advantage of growing solar industry

Published: Mar. 5, 2020 at 9:04 PM CST
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JONESBORO, Ark. (KAIT) - The solar industry has gained a lot of interest in Arkansas in recent years, especially with farmers.

Pete Moery is just one farmer in Northeast Arkansas adding another crop to his field, solar energy.

“We really think it’s a great investment not only for our farm but the future of energy,” said Moery.

Moery’s solar farm was completed in December 2019.

It’s expected to produce enough energy to power 145 homes per year, according to solar developer Stone Creek Solar.

“The projections are we should after about six years when we get our solar farm paid for, we should start saving about $100,000 a year on our farm,” said Moery.

Farmers aren’t the only ones benefitting from solar farming.

Executive Director for Arkansas Advanced Energy Association Katie Niebaum said the solar industry in Arkansas has really grown over the last few years, adding jobs and economic development across the state.

“Arkansas has been a leader in the solar sector’s job growth in the past year,” said Niebaum.

John Sawyer is the owner of Stone Creek Solar, the company that built the solar farm for Moery and farmer Jared Seeman.

Sawyer said his company assesses how many kilowatt-hours a farm or other entity has used in the last 12 months and their engineers design a system that will offset that amount of power.

“This, with or without the environmental attributes this just makes sense financially,” said Sawyer.

One of the big appeals to solar energy for Moery and Seeman was the savings on electricity costs.

“The way they have it set up, we’re not spending any more money than what we would currently be paying for electricity,” said Moery.

Vice President and Clean Energy Finance Manager Rabo AgriFinance Greg Aguilar said this could help farmers offset other costs, and makes them less reliant on their local utility for power.

“They deal with a lot of variables, so the ability to fix one variable such as a utility cost and allow them to save money for a long period of time is very important for them,” said Aguilar.

Another big factor for Seeman was the sustainability of solar energy.

“Environmentally, it’s good, that’s something farmers especially are going to have to be more conscious of in the future,” said Seeman.

As the solar industry grows in Arkansas, more farmers, schools, businesses, and government entities are looking into investing in solar farms.

“It’s pretty simple, if sunlight works and we can take advantage of it why not,” said Moery.

Solar farms aren’t just for farmers, if you’re interested in learning more about the solar industry you can visit the Arkansas Advanced Energy Association here.

You can learn more about Rabo AgriFinance, a financial services provider for agricultural producers here.

If you’re interested in learning more about Stone Creek Solar, a Jonesboro-based solar energy system provider, click here.

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