John D. Lester

General Manager
Clarksville Connected Utilities (CCU)


John D. Lester, General Manager of Clarksville Connected Utilities (CCU), is an accomplished leader in municipal utilities with over 20 years’ experience in managing Electric, Natural Gas, Water, Wastewater, and Fiber Optic utilities. He joined CCU in July of 2013. His responsibilities include daily management, operations, and financial performance of the combined utility, which consist of a 51 Megawatt peak Electric System, 16 MGD Water Treatment Facility, and 2.5 MGD Pollution Control Facility.

Most recently he provided leadership on CCU solar power plant in collaborating with an Arkansas developer on an award winning 6.5 MW DC/5.3 MW AC project. The value of the solar power plant was $11 million and the project was one of the largest investments in the community in a number of years. Clarksville Connected will purchase all of the solar plant’s power according to the terms of a 28-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). The construction of the facility was completed in a 90-day time frame in 2017 with a ground breaking on October 2nd and the plant becoming commercially operational by December 23rd. The plant produced over 10,500,381kWh of electricity in the first year of operation using over 20,000 modules on an axis tracker system which follows the sun over the horizon east to west. The plant sits on a 42-acres. It is visible from I-40 and is inside the city limits. At the time of construction, it was the third largest solar power plant in Arkansas. The project was the 3rd largest per capita of customers for a publicly owned utility in the United States last year recognized by Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) in 2018. The project also received the Digital Government “Efficiency” award and the 2019 Trendsetter Award presented by the Arkansas Municipal League and Crews & Associates for Environmental/ Green Management Practices. CCU has entered an agreement for a second solar plant for Clarksville. This second solar plant, combined with the capacity of plant one, will allow Clarksville, Arkansas to be the first municipality in the state of Arkansas whose internal city energy needs have been met with 100% solar/renewable energy.

John has also provided the leadership and vision for Clarksville’s effort to build an ultrahigh speed fiber optic network for Utility, City Government, County Government, County Hospital, Clarksville School District and University of the Ozarks use. Following the business case development and two statistically valid market surveys, indicating the success of a Fiber-To-The -Home project was very high, CCU issued revenue bonds in May of 2019 for their FTTx project. CCU was the first municipality in the state of Arkansas to issue bonds for a fiber project. CCU is now on target to begin construction of a community wide fiber network to connect homes and businesses during the 3rd quarter of 2019 using a Construction Manager/Design Build process. The network will be capable of delivering Gigabit speeds to residential users, as well as small businesses and multi gigabit active ethernet speeds for businesses, which have a high demand for bandwidth.

During John’s utility career he has worked as a Marketing Director for Crawfordsville Electric Light & Power in Crawfordsville, Indiana, as the Members Services Director for the Missouri Public Utility Alliance (MPUA), a power and natural gas agency and trade association for municipal utilities, and as City Manager for two municipalities in Kansas and Missouri. He has a Business degree from Ball State University, Muncie Indiana and has studied for his MBA at Friends University in Wichita, Kansas.

September 22-24, 2020

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