Table Rock Dam, Bull Shoals Dam, and others, worked around the clock to provide extra power to the Southwestern Power Pool at a time of crucial need, in some cases generating more than capacity.
Over 91,000 Megawatt Hours were generated in 7 days, which is enough to power 8,500 homes for an entire year.
The Southwest Power Pool consists of 14 member states, Arkansas, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas and Wyoming. When the Southwestern Power Pool has an emergency, as it did the past week and a half, it requests supplemental power.
The Army Corps of Engineers Operates the power plants at the dams, capable of generating massive amounts of electricity through hydroelectric power. When the Power Pool needs help, they call them.
“Hydro power is generated from White River System starting upstream and going downstream, from Beaver Dam, to Table Rock, Down to Bull Shoals, and then Norfork Dam, and the Greers Ferry Dam on the Little Red River.” Said Jay Townsend, Chief of Public Affairs at the Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District. “The storm began last Thursday, requests came in the same day. Monday through Wednesday, White River Power Plants were producing energy around the clock.”
Southwestern Power Administration declared a category 3 power emergency on Monday. It reduced that to a category 1 on Thursday.
When we spoke to Townsend Saturday afternoon, Table Rock lake had still been producing electricity for the past last 24 hours. Bull Shoals Dam had also been producing electricity for the same amount of time, and had been operating at over 100% capacity for an hour on Monday.
With that good news is concern about the reservoirs. With so much water lost due to opening up the dams, the reservoirs could remain low.
“Good news is we have snow on the ground, and it’s melting. As the snow melts, we will get some of that back.” Townsend said.
The hydroelectric generators have been supplying power for a long time, around half a century in some cases.
“Dams were installed original to provide flood protection to eastern Arkansas, the #1 rice exporter in the United States, but engineers had the foresight to install power generators.” Townsend said, “Fifty to sixty year old hydroelectric generators are supplying the power demands of America right now.”
The Southwestern Power Pool is no longer under an emergency alert, and remains in a “period of conservative operations” until 10 p.m., February 20th.