LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – The National Audubon Society is celebrating a significant distinction as the state’s first 100 percent renewable energy-powered nonprofit organization. The Little Rock Audubon Center is now home to a 35-kilowatt solar power plant, which was constructed by Scenic Hill Solar and designed to meet the center’s total electricity demand. The center also will feature a Solar Learning Lab to provide community education opportunities on solar power technology. 

Audubon and Scenic Hill Solar leaders held a ribbon-cutting ceremony today, joined by state lawmakers Senator Linda Chesterfield (D-District 30) and Representative Denise Jones Ennett (D-District 36), whose districts include the center’s Granite Mountain community. 

"In order to protect the birds that we love and the places that they need to survive, it is important that we do everything we can as an organization to reduce our own carbon emissions,” said Uta Meyer, LRAC Manager. “This solar project not only gives us an opportunity to educate the community on the benefits of renewable energy for both people and wildlife, but it also helps ensure we’re part of the solution in everything we do.” 

Over the next 30 years, the LRAC solar power plant will reduce carbon emissions by the equivalent of removing 2.7 million passenger car miles from the highway. Additionally, the LRAC Solar Learning Lab will include the ground mounted solar facility tied to the center’s electric meter, an indoor interactive educational exhibit on solar technology, and two tracks of educational curriculum – geared towards K-12 students and nonprofit leaders. 

Audubon is fueling the LRAC’s renewable energy innovations after leading a coalition to enact the Solar Access Act of 2019 (Act 464). The widely supported policy measure allows nonprofits and other entities to use third-party solar service agreements to monetize federal clean energy tax incentives, thus providing the opportunity for nonprofits to procure economic solar power. 

“The Solar Access Act established a gold standard for Arkansas solar energy by opening up the state’s market and providing more choices for consumers,” said Gary Moody, State and Local Climate Director for the National Audubon Society. “Enabling nonprofit groups like Audubon to deploy clean energy solutions helps position Arkansas as a leader in solar energy.” 

Senator Dave Wallace (R-District 22), lead sponsor of the Solar Access Act, said, “Audubon has been a strong advocate for smart solar policy in Arkansas, and I am pleased to see them now utilize the benefits of Act 464. We have seen tremendous economic growth as consumers drive the Arkansas solar market.” 

“Scenic Hill Solar has been delighted to work with Audubon on this solar power and educational project,” said Bill Halter, CEO of Scenic Hill Solar. “The solar power plant is owned and operated by Scenic Hill Solar and provides electricity to the Little Rock Audubon Center. As the first nonprofit organization in Arkansas to utilize 100 percent solar electricity, Audubon is simultaneously building on its rich history of environmental stewardship and conserving scarce budget resources. We are proud to partner with this forward-thinking organization.” 

The LRAC sits on 450 acres in Granite Mountain and serves as an environmental education field trip destination for K-12 students. The LRAC also engages the public in conservation priorities by showcasing Audubon’s work on bird-friendly communities and grassland restoration while providing visitors with engaging options for conservation action.

Audubon’s solar project is supported by a 3M Ecogrant and the National Audubon Society’s Maggie Walker Incentive Fund. 

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About Audubon 

The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow. Audubon works throughout the Americas using science, advocacy, education, and on-the-ground conservation. State programs, nature centers, chapters, and partners give Audubon an unparalleled wingspan that reaches millions of people each year to inform, inspire, and unite diverse communities in conservation action. A nonprofit conservation organization since 1905, Audubon believes in a world in which people and wildlife thrive. Learn more at www.audubon.org and on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @audubonsociety. 

Media Contact: Robyn Shepherd, robyn.shepherd@audubon.org 

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