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CCU Commission Votes To Negotiate For Suncloud, Despite Objections Of Manager

In their monthly meeting Monday, Feb. 26, members of the Clarksville Connected Utilities Commission voted to authorize management to negotiate with the utility’s wholesale power provider in an effort to accommodate a solar energy project, despite the objections of General Manager Roger Brooks.

Commissioners voted to direct Brooks and Utility Attorney Jason Carter to negotiate with the current wholesale power provider, the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority (OMPA), for power supply services that will accommodate proposed new industries the city is attempting to bring to the area, including a data center and a biomass energy production facility.

The city’s current power supply is not large enough to accommodate the needs of the facilities, and Mayor David Rieder and Economic Development Officer Stephen Houserman have begun negotiations with Suncloud, a solar energy provider, to provide additional supply for the new industry.

However, Brooks said he had numerous concerns with the proposal from Suncloud and preferred to attempt to negotiate with OMPA to provide the needed supply.

“OMPA offers reliability,” Brooks said. “They are willing to accommodate us in many ways, including multiple contracts. Solar is unreliable. CCU cannot take this risk financially”

Commissioner Bill Hill said the city has a commitment that the solar plant project and data center will be started simultaneously, adding Suncloud representatives stated they would put the commitment in writing.

Brooks said he did not believe Suncloud could generate the level of megawatts from the property in question as they claim, and that “neither CCU nor the taxpayers should be guinea pigs.”

Rieder told the Commission the city is capped at 38 megawatts in economic prosperity and needs more capacity to recruit larger industrial customers. He said he was not opposed to the city remaining with OMPA as its wholesale provider but did want to explore other ways to increase capacity.

Carter said there are challenges in finding new capacity to help Clarksville meet future economic development goals.

To read full story, see the Feb. 28 edition of The Graphic, found online and in businesses throughout Johnson County.

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