Hydroelectric project taken over by bond company

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) - After several years in operation the generation of power from nature in Independence County has hit a short circuit.  The project has fallen into default on its bond payments, which spells bad news for the county.

County Judge Bill Hicks told Region 8 news the county fell into default by several hundred thousand dollars last fall.  He said the project wasn't generating as much power as they expected it to and in the case of a hydroelectric project, power means money.

"It's just power that's generated basically off the power of nature," said White River Hydroelectric Project Operations and Maintenance employee Thomas Belford.

But sometimes nature isn't always cooperative.  When water flows over the units, it generates power.  The power is sold to the town of Clarksville, Arkansas.  The amount of power generated hasn't been enough to make the payments.  When they fell behind on their bond payments Hicks said the bond company, ACA Financial Guarantee Corporation, took over the project.

While the county is still a partner in the project, the bond company has taken the lead.  Hicks said last week the changeover was made from Transtech that had been working on the project to Alpena.

"The ideal level is about anywhere from six inches to a foot coming over that dam and we can generate pretty good power at that point," said Belford.

Employees of the White River Hydroelectric Project work to do what they can to keep the project running smoothly and producing as much power as possible.  That includes cleaning the debris that flows down the river.

In the past couple of months the power generated has greatly increased.  That's thanks in part to a cap being put at unit three to lift the water up.

"We have put a cap on there that raised the river three foot higher there and got our generation up to where it's a really generating what it's supposed to right now.  Right at a 4.0," said Belford.

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