STUTTGART, Ark.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Producers Rice Mill will soon have an uninterrupted source of clean power thanks to an innovative new solar + storage microgrid developed by Scenic Hill Solar and constructed by CS Energy and KORE Power, Inc. The Producers’ project is the largest commercial and industrial solar project in Arkansas history and one of the largest microgrid projects in the United States.
Since 1943, the Producers Rice Mill cooperative’s members – now including more than 2,000 U.S. farmers — have relied on the Producers’ facility in Stuttgart, Arkansas, to process, store, and ship their harvest around the world. The facility mills more than 40 million bushels of rice every year.
“We project the microgrid will deliver millions of dollars in savings on our electric bills over the next 30 years, and those savings will be passed on to more than 2,000 hard-working farm families. It will further our commitment to sustainability and deliver greater economic security as we continue our tradition of providing one of the world’s most important foods,” said Keith Glover, CEO of Producers Rice Mill. “In addition, our solar power plant, battery storage, and microgrid will allow Producers to deliver power to the utility grid during times of grid stress, providing a huge benefit for other utility customers.”
The 20 MW AC solar array designed and installed by CS Energy will be supported by a 41.2 MWh lithium-ion energy storage facility, allowing the mill to continue operations during periods of electrical curtailment by the local utility. The energy storage system will allow the facility to be powered by the local grid or, when needed, draw power from the solar installation during interruptions in electrical service. The rapid response offered by battery storage and KORE Power’s microgrid controller system will mitigate power quality issues and intermittent stoppages at the plant. The installation will also increase renewable energy used by the facility, providing 67% of the facility’s energy needs.
The project was developed and is being built under the direction of Scenic Hill Solar.
“Arkansas is the nation’s leading rice producer, growing about half of the United States’ total crop, and Producers Rice Mill is a true farmer cooperative serving more than 2,000 farm family members in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Missouri,” said Scenic Hill CEO Bill Halter. “With this project we will be giving Producers the power it needs to ensure that these farmers’ products are getting to customers around the globe with clean, renewable power generated on-site and available on demand.”
Producers Rice Mill processes a range of domestically grown rice products including long grain milled white rice, long grain milled brown rice, medium grain rice, parboiled rice, as well as rice bran, rice hulls, and more.
““Producers Rice Mill is an engine of Arkansas’ economy, supporting industry across the region and providing food for the world,” Halter said. “Giving reliable clean power to this facility can make it a model for industry around the nation.”
CS Energy, which delivers engineering, procurement, construction, and operational support for solar and energy storage projects nationally, is building the solar array and associated electrical infrastructure.
Jesse Lieberman, Director of Operations of CS Energy, said the Producers Rice Mill project stands out because its impact will be felt across the globe. “Designing and constructing a solar + energy storage system that ensures more reliable power helped us solve our customer’s challenges and ensures Producers can cleanly and reliably process their members’ harvest,” Lieberman said. “That’s good news for the farmers here in the United States, and it’s good news for consumers across the world.”
Gregg Noble, Vice President of Strategic Partnerships and Sales at KORE Solutions, Inc., a subsidiary of KORE Power, said the KORE team will install an energy storage system and microgrid controller built at the KORE Solutions facility in Waterbury, Vermont using KORE’s Mark 1 lithium-ion batteries and US-manufactured EPC inverters.
“With the recently passed federal legislation supporting microgrid development, we’re excited to work with Scenic Hill and CS Energy to deliver this project,” Noble said. “This is a fantastic example of a microgrid system helping an industrial producer overcome electricity challenges.”
Noble said the KORE Solutions team will monitor the system’s operation from its network operations center in Vermont and will dispatch crews annually to support the microgrid and assist Producers in optimizing the controller’s operation over time to best support the facility’s needs.
About Producers Rice Mill, Inc.
Producers Rice Mill, Inc. is located in the heart of the southern rice belt - Stuttgart, Arkansas, and celebrating its 80th year of business. With over 2,000 farmer members, many who have been part of the Producers’ family for multiple generations, its members farm approximately 350,000 acres of rice. Growing the safest and most sustainable crop in the world, a lot of care is put into the rough rice that we receive. That care is continued as the rice is moved through our milling and packaging operations.
With four rice mills and 12 storage and receiving locations throughout Arkansas and Mississippi, Producers ships product worldwide as an industry leader in foodservice, retail, export and ingredients markets. From the land to the customer, Producers is totally integrated as a farmer-owned cooperative offering the most efficient distribution channel: Direct from the grower to the customer. www.producersrice.com
About Scenic Hill Solar
Scenic Hill Solar is the largest Arkansas-headquartered solar power developer, according to Solar Power World. Scenic Hill Solar provides commercial, industrial, government, and municipal utility clients with clean electricity, reduced energy prices, and long-term electricity price certainty by developing client-specific solar energy plants. Scenic Hill Solar provides clients either lower-priced electricity under contract or turnkey delivery of solar power plants, depending on clients' specific needs. Scenic Hill Solar is headquartered in Little Rock, Arkansas. Visit the company online at www.ScenicHillSolar.com. Scenic Hill Solar's CEO is former Arkansas Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter: www.ScenicHillSolar.com/billhalter
About CS Energy
CS Energy is an industry-leading engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) renewable energy firm that designs and builds optimized projects in solar, energy storage, and emerging energy industries. CS Energy has successfully designed and installed over 1.5 GW of solar and 470 MWh of energy storage projects across the United States. Owned by American Securities, a leading US private equity firm, CS Energy leverages strong relationships with solar developers, IPPs, utilities, off-takers, suppliers, and landowners to help our customers streamline the project development process, lower project costs, and create value for all stakeholders as a trusted and long-term partner.
About KORE Power, Inc.
KORE Power, Inc. (KORE) is a leading US-based developer of lithium-ion cells and manufacturer of integrated solutions for the e-mobility and energy storage sectors. KORE is one of the only domestic manufacturers to use U.S. intellectual property and technology. The KOREPlex, a lithium-ion battery cell facility, broke ground in the fourth quarter of 2022, with commercial production scheduled for the first quarter of 2025. The KOREPlex, a gigafactory in Arizona, will have the capacity to produce 12GWh of battery cells to supply the market with American-made, lithium-ion battery cells. Since its founding, KORE’s mission has been to catalyze the domestic renewable energy supply chain, advancing the energy transition through American jobs, manufacturing, and the pursuit of energy independence.