Sustainability Courtesy

Fayetteville officials have reached 72% of their goal to have 100% clean energy in local government buildings by 2030 thanks to newly installed solar panels at the city’s wastewater treatment plants.

Fayetteville officials have reached 72% of their goal to have 100% clean energy in local government buildings by 2030, Mayor Lioneld Jordan said Nov. 6 during a panel discussion on campus.

The goal to have clean energy in local buildings by 2030 is part of a greater Energy Action plan the city approved in early 2018 to keep the city aligned with the Paris Climate agreement, Jordan said.  

The city reached this point in their goal in less than two years because of newly installed solar panels at the city’s two wastewater treatment plants, Noland Wastewater Treatment Facility and West Side Wastewater Treatment Facility, said Chris McNamara, Fayetteville sustainability project manager.

“I do not think that we were expected to reach this goal so quickly,” McNamara said. “I do think we will reach our 100% clean energy goal well before (2030.)” 

The West Side Wastewater Treatment Plant and Noland Wastewater Treatment Plant use about 60% of the local government’s energy because they constantly pump, clean and filter the city’s water supply. At the beginning of 2019, the city had reached 16% of its clean energy goal.

City officials are working toward having 100% clean energy citywide by 2050, Jordan said.

The solar panels produce 10 megawatts of electricity during the day and charge batteries for use at night, McNamara said.

“We need to act and demonstrate leadership and help the community see what’s possible,” McNamara said.

City officials worked with two firms, Today’s Power, Inc., a solar energy manufacturer and Ozark Electric, an electricity provider to develop solar panels, which would make the wastewater plants cheaper to run. McNamara said. 

“I imagine within five years we should reach our clean-energy goal,” McNamara said. “You know, I don’t want to make a promise, but it seems quite feasible.”

The city officials are pursuing the energy initiatives, like the 100% clean energy goal, to mitigate greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to events that could negatively impact Fayetteville, like climate-change induced weather, McNamara said.

“Weather changes will have an impact on city services, so we will see more extreme weather events (due to climate change),” McNamara said. “These are rainfalls, winter storms, droughts and in those situations, parts of the community that have less resources will be reaching out for services.”

Zachery Sutherland is a staff reporter for the Arkansas Traveler, where he has been a staff reporter since February 2019.

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