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LinkedIn | June 27, 2017

The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) has named Ouachita Electric Cooperative Corporation (OECC) the 2017 SEPA Power Players Electric Cooperative Utility of the Year. Now in their ninth year, the SEPA Power Players Awards recognize utilities, their industry partners, individuals and other stakeholders on the front lines of energy transformation in the United States that are significantly advancing knowledge of or access to distributed energy resources that benefit electricity consumers and the grid.

Chosen by an independent panel of seven judges with diverse experience in the electric power industry, OECC and winners in six other categories will be honored at an awards dinner Wednesday, July 26 during SEPA’s Grid Evolution Summit: A National Town Meeting in Washington, D.C.

“We are overwhelmed to be honored with this award. This project has clearly demonstrated that working together as a unified team everybody wins.  New technology has started to take root here where many thought it could never work. Our goal has been to refocus attention on South Arkansas as a leader in innovative energy efficiency programs, clean renewable energy, and high speed fiber internet in the rural area we serve”, said Mark Cayce General Manager of OECC.

OECC worked with its largest industrial customer, – defense contractor Aerojet Rocketdyne, – developer Silicon Ranch and the Arkansas Electric Cooperatives Corporation (AECC), to construct a 12-megawatt (MW) solar array. The unique part of this collaboration was the power purchase agreement (PPA) that placed the array behind Aerojet Rocketdyne’s meter, giving the company a fixed, low-cost power supply. The project was the first utility-scale solar array built in Arkansas. It also provided approximately 6 MW of peak capacity and energy to AECC while simultaneously reducing the peak demand for OECC. This reduction in peak demand cost has lowered the cost of power for all OECC members.

“Partnering with a major industrial customer to build behind-the-meter, utility-scale solar that lowers peak demand costs is smart itself, but for it to be the first utility-scale solar in Arkansas period, demonstrates just how far the industry has come,” stated Don Harrod, Village Administrator of Minster, Ohio, SEPA’s 2016 Public Power Utility of the Year. “Ouachita Electric Cooperative Corporation is making major moves, I look forward to seeing what their clean energy future can teach others.”

“Building large-scale solar in a part of the country where it hasn’t been done before is difficult. What we see from Ouachita, and many others, is that it isn’t too big of a hurdle to circumvent,” said SEPA President and CEO Julia Hamm. “Creative PPAs and unique program designs such as Ouachita’s that benefit both the customer and the grid is another example of work being done to move the United States toward a clean energy future.”

The SEPA Power Players Awards Dinner will be held Wednesday, July 26 at the Washington Hilton. Tickets are $50 per person or $350 per table of eight. Get more details here.

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