Mississippi County Community College – now Arkansas Northeastern College – was once in the vanguard of solar energy use.
In 1976, the U.S. Department of Energy chose the fledgling campus to receive the Total Energy Solar Photovoltaic Conversion System, which would generate electricity and hot water. Through the $8.8 million project, 270 solar collectors, each measuring twenty by seven feet, were installed, and the main building was designed with vaulted glass ceilings and wind-breaking devices for energy efficiency.
The system was controlled by one of the first Hewlett-Packard desktop computers. Though the Energy Department pledged five years of funding in 1982, the Reagan Administration slashed the budget and the project was shut down in 1983.
Eighty percent of the solar panels were sold for scrap in the late ‘90s, and the sole remaining panel stands by a plaque commemorating the Mississippi County Community College Solar Experiment.
To learn more, visit the Encyclopedia of Arkansas.