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Generating interest in Southwestern Division hydropower

The Beaver Dam power plant operates two main 56 megawatt turbines and one house unit. The revenue from power generation is returned to the U.S Treasury to pay for the purchase price of the dam and the generating equipment Operations and Maintenance.
The Beaver Dam power plant operates two main 56 megawatt turbines and one house unit. The revenue from power generation is returned to the U.S Treasury to pay for the purchase price of the dam and the generating equipment Operations and Maintenance.

By Jay Townsend
Little Rock District
Public Affairs Office

As the nations’ demand for renewable energy use increases, so does the strain on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ageing hydropower infrastructure, the largest producer of renewable energy in the U.S.

The Corps is the largest owner-operator of hydroelectric power plants in the U.S. and one of the largest in the world. They operate 353 hydroelectric generating units at 75 multipurpose reservoirs with a total capability of 21,000 megawatts. This capability generates about 24 percent of America’s hydroelectric power and represents approximately 3 percent of the country’s total electric-generating capacity.

In order to ensure the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Tulsa, Little Rock and Fort Worth district hydropower assets are reliable for years to come, the three districts, under the umbrella of the Corp’s Southwestern Division, have formed the Southwestern Division Regional Hydropower Governance Board

The governance board provides oversight of the region’s hydropower programs. The goal of the board is to seek the most effective and efficient processes to deliver power generation, sustain the infrastructure, execute operations and maintenance at the hydropower projects and sustain technical competencies.

Currently the board has established eight working groups to study specific facets of the hydropower program. Discussions range from staffing and succession planning to data acquisition and even hazardous energy. The board indentified common integral sub-programs of the overall hydropower program and charged the working groups staffed by regional subject matter experts with developing implementation plans for standardization across the region.

The board is using the Army’s risk management processes (e.g., monitoring, examination, and analysis) to decide where and when to invest in maintenance and repairs in order to assure safe operations and provide national economic benefits.

The electricity produced within the Southwestern Division is marketed by Southwestern Power Administration and is sold, at cost, to not-for-profit municipal utilities, military installations and rural electric cooperatives for use by the citizens of Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Texas.

The Fort Worth District operates and maintains three hydroelectric plants, containing a total of 6 units with a generating capacity of 101 Megawatts. All of the plants are located within Texas.

The Tulsa District operates and maintains eight hydroelectric power plants, containing a total of 22 units with a generating capacity of 584 megawatts. Seven of the plants are located within eastern Oklahoma with one located just across the border in Texas. These plants benefit approximately 2 million end users throughout Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Missouri, Kansas and Louisiana.

The Little Rock District operates and maintains seven hydroelectric power plants. The 27 units in Little Rock have a a generating capacity of 1,068 Megawatts, and enough generation to power up to 400,000 households. Six of the plants are located throughout Arkansas and one is located at Table Rock Lake in Branson, Missouri.

Corps hydropower plants provide the ability to respond to rapid fluctuations in the nations’ power grid caused by other intermittent renewable resources such as wind and solar power. These auxiliary support services provided by Corps hydropower plants stabilize the grid and are essential for the smooth electrical integration of other renewable energy resources.

The current makeup of the board puts both Tulsa and Little Rock District commanders as co-chairs of the board with the Tulsa District Commander serving as the Executive Director. Members of the board include representatives from all three districts with provisions for special advisors to be select from best qualified from all three districts.


Corps sandbag filler saves labor, helps communities in need

The hydraulic sandbag filler was loaned to Tulsa District Communities in Grove, Oklahoma, Durant, Texas and Wagoner, Oklahoma. Wagoner was able to build 500 sandbags in 50 minutes with the machine, and will serve as the distribution center for sandbags.
The hydraulic sandbag filler was loaned to Tulsa District Communities in Grove, Oklahoma, Durant, Texas and Wagoner, Oklahoma. Wagoner was able to build 500 sandbags in 50 minutes with the machine, and will serve as the distribution center for sandbags.

Brannen Parrish
Tulsa District
Public Affairs Office

 

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has been using and providing communities with sandbags for more than 100 years, but building sandbags is labor-intensive.

As a results of recent flooding in Oklahoma and Texas, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers provided a hydraulic sandbag filling machine, on loan from the Corps’ Kansas District, to help Oklahoma and Texas Communities with the bag-building process.

The hydraulic filler and its two-man crew spent one day in Grove, Oklahoma, and two days in Durant, Texas, before being sent to Wagoner, Oklahoma.

The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management determined Wagoner would be the central sandbag distribution center.

In the first 50 minutes of operation the machine and community volunteers built 500 sandbags.

“We had volunteers come from all over the county,” said Heath Underwood, emergency manager for Wagoner County.

“We had the Coweta football team come in,” added Underwood, “We asked for volunteers and they all just started coming in.”

Those volunteers, said Gary Cain, one of two sandbag machine operators sent from Kansas City to set up the hydraulic filler, are as important as the machine itself.

“You need the volunteers to tie and stack the bags” said Gary Cain, a crane operator with the Kansas City District, who works with the sandbag filling machine during emergency operations. “The more volunteers you have the more you can put the bags out, the easier it is.”

The Wagoner County Emergency Management Office now has 8,000 sandbags. Some will be placed into storage for future use, while the rest will be picked up by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and delivered to sites around the region.

The machine and crew were able to return to Kansas City, June 1.

“It really helped my guys out and relieved the pressure on us. The people came in, pulled together and helped us out,” said Underwood.

In addition to sandbags, the Tulsa District U.S. Army Corps of Engineers managed water releases from more than 50 reservoirs in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas during the May rain event.

“We believe we’ve been able to save lives and infrastructure with our system of reservoirs,” said Lt. Col. Daniel Young, Deputy Commander, Tulsa District. “The people who operate, manage and maintain our structures worked long hours to safely guide us through this event.”


The official U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Southwestern Division publication