Hydroelectric power plants in Arkansas helping with power strain during snowstorm

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — Arkansas was able to tap into its natural resources to prevent what could have been more rolling blackouts during this week’s storm. Just like how some homeowners have generators, the state of Arkansas has hydroelectric power plants, a back-up power supply using the gifts from Mother Nature.

Jay Townsend with the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers says during times of peak demand, it’s normal for energy companies to call on them to produce hydropower to meet that demand.

“Typically, when that happens, it’s for a few hours at a time and it comes on, it meets the demand and it goes back off,” Townsend said. But over the last week, the demand was constant.

“We ran our generators around the clock to meet that peak demand,” Townsend said.  

It’s true some Arkansans did lose power. “But what we know is that the continued production of hydropower reduced the number of blackouts in this region,” said Townsend. It could have been much worse. “Had we not had supplemental power coming from hydropower, solar, wind and other areas, the energy grid would have taken a larger hit and many more of us would have been without power,” Townsend said.

The Natural State was also a good neighbor during the storm, lending a helping hand this week to 14 other states, some in crisis. “Texas was devastated by this and many of them had lost power and had rolling blackouts happening,” Townsend said. “We were able to reduce those, as well, with power we produced.”

In the last week, some of the dams produced enough energy for 104,000 homes for one month.
“If you stretch that out into a year, we produced enough power in the last seven days to supply enough power to 8,500 homes,” Townsend said.

All of this done just by tapping into the natural resources we already have. It’s something Townsend says Arkansans should be proud of.

The hydroelectric power plants are tapering off a bit now from their 24/7 use over the last week. They’re still being used during peak times like in the morning when people are getting ready for the day and in the evening when folks are settling in for the night.

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