LITTLE ROCK — The state Public Service Commission on Thursday approved a request by Entergy Arkansas to enter into a 20-year power purchase agreement for the state’s largest solar energy facility.

LITTLE ROCK — The state Public Service Commission on Thursday approved a request by Entergy Arkansas to enter into a 20-year power purchase agreement for the state’s largest solar energy facility.


The approval clears the way for construction to begin on an 81-megawatt solar energy generating facility on 500 acres southeast of Stuttgart. Entergy has said the facility will produce enough clean energy to power about 13,000 homes and will reduce the demand for fossil-fueled energy.


The company has estimated that the facility will save residential customers about $25 million over the 20-year term of the power purchase agreement with NextEra Energy Resources. NextEra expects to hire 200 to 300 workers for the construction project and expects the project to generate about $8 million in tax revenue for the state.


Hugh McDonald, president and CRO of Entergy Arkansas, said in a statement Thursday the company is "extremely appreciative that the Arkansas Public Service Commission has delivered a favorable order supporting Entergy Arkansas’ 20-year power purchase agreement for clean, renewable energy."


"Our generation portfolio is already one of the cleanest in the country, 71 percent nuclear in 2014," McDonald said. "This solar plant will enhance that position. Emissions-free energy from the facility will also allow Entergy Arkansas to hedge the risk associated with fuel price fluctuations and potential environmental regulations in the future."


Glen Hooks, director of the Sierra Club of Arkansas, said in a statement the organization "is excited to welcome this large, home-grown, clean energy project to Arkansas."


"We commend both Entergy Arkansas and the Public Service Commission for taking this historic step," he said. "Already in 2015, four new utility-scale solar or wind projects have been proposed for our state — the first such projects in our history. Importantly, as Entergy is moving toward clean energy, (it has) also proposed shutting down one of its largest dirty coal-fired plants. Arkansas, like the nation as a whole, is creating a clean energy future."


Entergy Arkansas has proposed shutting down the White Bluff plant in Redfield in 13 years.