Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), based in Little Rock, is one of the top generation and transmission cooperatives in the nation with assets of about $1.6 billion and annual energy sales of about $653 million. It provides wholesale electricity, at some of the most competitive rates in the nation, to the state's 17 electric distribution cooperatives. Those cooperatives also own AECC and are its members.
|Incorporated||July 11, 1949|
|Generation Resources||3,418 megawatts|
|Annual Energy Sales||13.6 million megawatt-hours|
|Operating Revenues||$653 million|
AECC was created in 1949 to provide Arkansas' electric cooperatives with a reliable and affordable power supply. At the time, the cooperatives were faced with rising electricity costs and shrinking power supplies. At the root of the problem was the cooperatives' dependence on investor-owned utilities for wholesale power. Although the cooperatives had built their own distribution systems - the lines and wires that transport electricity to their members - they had not built power plants and were prohibited by state law from doing so.
In 1961, after several hard-fought legislative and court battles, AECC was finally free to build its first power plant, the Thomas B. Fitzhugh Generating Station at Ozark. This natural gas/oil-based plant was completed in 1963 at a cost of $7.5 million. Three years later, AECC built the Carl E. Bailey Generating Station at Augusta, followed by the John L. McClellan Generating Station at Camden in 1972.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, AECC formed partnerships with other utilities to share the costs of building three coal-based power plants - the Flint Creek Power Plant near Gentry, the White Bluff Steam Electric Station at Redfield, and the Independence Steam Electric Station near Newport. These plants are fueled by low-sulfur coal from Wyoming, which keeps air emissions in line with federal and state requirements.
After those successful partnerships, the cooperatives returned to building new generation on their own in the early 1980s. After conducting feasibility studies and obtaining federal licenses, AECC made plans to build its first hydroelectric plant at the James W. Trimble Lock & Dam near Fort Smith. This plant, known as the Clyde T. Ellis Hydroelectric Generating Station, began operation in 1988. Five years later, the Carl S. Whillock Hydroelectric Generating Station near Morrilton was completed. In 1994, work began on a plant at the Wilbur D. Mills Dam near Dumas. This plant, known as the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas Hydropower Generating Station, began commercial operation in the fall of 1999. AECC also buys electricity from hydropower plants through the Southwestern Power Administration. And when it is more economical to purchase power on the wholesale market than to run its plants, AECC's dispatchers do so to save its members money.
AECC receives four megawatts of biomass energy generated by the Eco-Vista Landfill located in northwest Arkansas through a long-term power purchase agreement. This agreement allowed the generation and transmission to add biomass to its diverse generation mix.
In April 2012, AECC announced a long-term purchase power agreement for 51 megawatts of wind energy from the Flat Ridge 2 South Wind Farm in Kansas. The addition of wind power to the cooperative’s generation portfolio is a testament to the continued commitment to proving reasonably priced power to its member cooperatives.
AECC purchased a 660-megawatt combined cycle natural gas-fired power plant located near Malvern in September of 2012. The state-of-the-art facility, which began commerical operation in 2006, has three generators – two combustion turbines and one steam turbine. AECC named the facility the Magnet Cove Generating Station.
Another way AECC works for its members is through the promotion of energy efficiency. AECC encourages its members to reduce their electricity bills by purchasing high-efficiency appliances, such as heat pumps and electric water heaters. AECC also partners with Doug Rye, a well-known energy efficiency expert, to spread the word about building techniques for energy-efficient homes and buildings. Through the partnership with Rye, several electric distribution cooperatives have built energy-efficient model homes within the state.
With its diverse generation resources, now totaling about 3,332 megawatts, AECC is able to deliver reliable electricity at affordable rates, just as the early cooperative leaders envisioned. Through sound planning, AECC is prepared to continue to meet the needs of the approximately 500,000 members served by the state's electric cooperatives for years to come.