Ozark powerhouse receives $13 million from stimulus budget

by The City Wire staff ([email protected]) 499 views 

The Ozark-Jeta Taylor powerhouse will get $13 million in money from the federal stimulus budget, according to a statement from U.S. Sens. Blanche Lincoln, D-Ark., and Mark Pryor, D-Ark.

The 100 megawatt hydroelectric powerhouse is part of the lock and dam on the Arkansas River near Ozark. The money will be used to finish rehabilitation of one of five turbines, which will help make the plant more efficient.

According to the Lincoln and Pryor release, the Ozark-Jeta Taylor Powerhouse provided electricity for approximately 27,000 homes in 2009 and is expected to be able to power an estimated 41,000 homes once repair work for the plant is complete.

“This Recovery Act investment will support jobs and improve the capacity of the Ozark- Jeta Taylor Powerhouse to provide clean, renewable energy for its Arkansas customers,” Lincoln said in the statement. “I am committed to securing investments like this one that will improve our infrastructure.”

The federal stimulus plan has pushed a total of $28 million to the Ozark-Jeta Taylor rehab, the statement explained.

“This money will be used to continue the contract to rehabilitate the existing hydropower units,” said Randy Hathaway, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Little Rock District, deputy district engineer for project management. “It comes at a great time. It will allow us to remain on an efficient schedule to get the units back into operation as soon as possible, thus providing a service to those who use the power generated.”

According to Newton, Mass.-based MOCA Systems, the scheduling consultant on the Ozark rehab program, the Ozark powerhouse was the first slant-shaft turbine built by the Corps of Engineers. It and the powerhouse at Webbers Falls, Okla., are the only slant-shafts on the Arkansas River system.

A MOCA website report on the project notes that the slant-shaft systems “have been subject to frequent failures” because of original design flaws.

The overall rehab project is estimated to cost $77 million. It began in 2005, but problems emerged in 2008 when the work revealed more problems. Those problems placed “significant risk” on being able to finish the work, according to MOCA. Charlotte, N.C.-based Andritz Hydro is the general contractor on the project.

The Corps hired MOCA in 2009 to help meet the original and adjusted financial and scheduling objectives.