The cooperatives have long been familiar with the benefits of hydropower. From their very inception, they depended on hydropower from federal hydropower projects to supply energy to their members.
The cooperatives completed the first of three hydropower plants on the Arkansas River in one of their most ambitious generation projects ever in December 1988. The plant, the Clyde T. Ellis Hydroelectric Generating Station, was built at the James W. Trimble Lock and Dam near Fort Smith. It marked the cooperatives’ commitment to a long-term, low-cost power source for their members. Later in the 1980s and 90s, the cooperatives completed two other hydropower plants, making the total investment in the hydropower energy resources at more than $330 million.
In addition to its owned generation assets, AECC utilizes purchased power agreements for several additional energy resources. AECC purchases approximately 194 megawatts of hydroelectric energy from the Southwestern Power Administration and four megawatts of biomass energy from the EcoVista landfill. AECC has also entered into 20-year purchased power agreements for about 373 megawatts of wind energy and has contracted to receive up to 14 megawatts of solar energy.
Altogether, the total amount of these resources exceeds 752 megawatts, which represents more than 18 percent of the cooperative’s generation and energy portfolio.
AECC is also committed to promoting the efficient use of electricity to meet the growing energy load requirements of its members. While energy efficiency alone will not eliminate the need to invest in additional generation resources, it does have unique benefits beyond lowering a member’s electric bill. The efficient use of energy exemplifies individual action accruing to the benefit of both the individual and the broader community, which is a defining characteristic of the cooperative business model. To maximize the potential of system-wide energy efficiency efforts, AECC is dedicated to on-going efforts to identify best practices, educate members about energy efficiency programs and determine actionable innovations for future implementation.
Throughout its history, AECC’s leaders have made tough choices and taken bold positions to ensure that the cooperative could meet its members’ power needs. Today, those leadership principles are more important than ever. The cooperative will continue to make decisions and take a stand to support efforts for energy policies that are fair and in the best interest of electric cooperative members.
Looking to the future, AECC will continue to search for innovative methods to provide members with environmentally sound power resources by maximizing the value of existing generation resources, investing in new technologies and developing renewable energy sources.
AECC currently sells or plans to sell the Renewable Energy Credits associated with the electricity produced by the following: Carl S. Whillock Hydroelectric Generating Station, Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas Hydropower Generating Station and from facilities associated with power purchase agreements with Origin Wind Energy, Drift Sand Wind Project, Flat Ridge 2 Wind Energy and SR Camden. AECC does not claim that the electricity sold from these generation resources to its member cooperatives and others is “green,” “renewable,” “clean” or has any other environmental attribute.