Hydroelectric dams used to power homes during blackouts

Local News

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The US Army Corps of Engineers are tapping into a natural resource to give Missouri and Arkansas homes running water and electricity.

Jay Townsend, chief of Public Affairs for the US Army Corps of Engineers Little Rock District, said their efforts with the hydro-generators helped reduce the number of blackouts.

“Many of us should be very thankful for the men and women that work at those hydropower plants,” said Townsend. “That they were able to get out of their homes and get to the plants, and ensure they were up and running. Because of their efforts, we significantly reduced the number of rolling blackouts for this entire region.”

Hydroelectric dams usually only operate eight hours a day during peak times of power usage. However, to support the power grid, Townsend said generators like the ones at Bull Shoals Lake were running all day and night.

“In this particular storm, there was a lot of wind and solar that couldn’t be tapped into,” said Townsend. “So that’s why hydropower was turned on 24/7.”

Townsend said keeping the generators running constantly took a lot of water.

“We did see lake levels drop around four to six inches per day, so many of the lakes are down a foot, foot and a half,” said Townsend.

Low-level waters shouldn’t be a problem for much longer.

“If we go down the road, one, two or three months and it’s not raining and we don’t get filled back up, then we might go into summer with lower lake levels, but as of right now, we definitely think the snow melts and then the rains in the forecast will help us bring it up to conservation pool,” said Townsend.

The Arkansas River, Ozark and Russelville Power Plants were the only ones operating 24/7 for 10 to 12 days.

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