Southwestern Electric Power Co. (SWEPCO), an operating unit of American Electric Power (NYSE: AEP), Thursday began commercial operation of the new 600-megawatt (MW) John W. Turk, Jr. Power Plant near Fulton, Ark., in Hempstead County, Dec. 20.
Turk, the first ultra-supercritical generating unit to go into operation in the U.S., generates electricity more efficiently at higher temperatures, requires less coal and produces fewer emissions to generate the same amount of power as existing coal units.
“The Turk Plant is yet another example of AEP’s long history of advancing coal-fueled generating technologies. AEP built our nation’s first supercritical coal-fueled power plants decades ago. At Turk, we’ve deployed ultra-supercritical generating technology, and built one of the nation’s cleanest, most efficient pulverized coal generating plants,” said Nicholas K. Akins, AEP president and chief executive officer. “Turk will provide reliable, affordable power for our customers and project partners and will provide significant benefits for the area’s economy. I commend our employees and the business and community partners who helped make Turk happen.”
SWEPCO owns 73 percent (440 MW) of the $1.8 billion, Turk Plant. Co-owners are Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. (AECC), 12 percent for its 490,000 members; East Texas Electric Cooperative (ETEC), 8 percent for its 178,000 customers; and Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority (OMPA), 7 percent, serving 39 municipal electric systems in the state.
“This is a milestone addition of very efficient generation during SWEPCO’s 100th anniversary to help meet the growing energy needs of all SWEPCO customers, and we heartily thank our many supporters of the project these last six years,” said Venita McCellon-Allen, SWEPCO president and chief operating officer. “We are so proud of the Turk Plant because it demonstrates our commitment and ability to meet stringent environmental standards set by federal and state regulatory agencies.”
Construction of the Turk Plant began in November 2008, and the project provided up to 2,200 construction jobs at the peak of employment in May 2011. The plant will have 109 permanent positions and an estimated annual payroll of $9 million. Turk will provide an additional $6 million in annual school and county property tax revenues in Southwest Arkansas. The plant will serve SWEPCO retail and wholesale customers in Louisiana and Texas, as well as the ETEC customers. In Arkansas the plant will serve SWEPCO’s wholesale customers – the cities of Hope, Bentonville and Prescott – and the AECC members. OMPA customers in Oklahoma also will benefit from the power produced at the Turk Plant.
SWEPCO’s balanced approach to new generation, announced in 2006, includes both coal and natural gas plants to support generation fuel diversity. The coal-fueled Turk Plant is a base-load facility designed to meet customers’ need for power that is consistently available 24/7. SWEPCO also added peaking generation to its fleet through the 300-MW natural gas-fueled Harry D. Mattison Power Plant in Northwest Arkansas, which came on line in 2007; and intermediate generation from the 508-MW combined-cycle natural gas-fueled J. Lamar Stall Unit at Arsenal Hill in Shreveport, La., which came on line in 2010.
The Turk Plant is located on about 3,000 acres between Fulton and McNab, Ark. Tim Gross is the plant manager. Fuel for the plant is low-sulfur coal from the Powder River Basin in Wyoming.
The new facility is named for John W. Turk, Jr., who was president and chief executive officer of SWEPCO from 1983-1988. A Texas native and graduate of the University of Texas, Turk worked for SWEPCO for 39 years. He passed away in 2009.
SWEPCO serves more than 524,000 customers in three states, including 114,000 in western Arkansas, 228,000 in northwest and central Louisiana, and 182,000 in East and North Texas. SWEPCO’s headquarters are in Shreveport, La. News releases and other information about SWEPCO can be found at www.swepco.com.