February 23, 2007--Posted 6:30 p.m. CST
BATESVILLE, AR--If you have traveled to Batesville recently you will notice a large amount of construction by the Riverside Park.
It's one part of three hydroelectric plants being installed to generate power for Clarksville, Arkansas. As the water flows down the White River, Independence County is anticipating money flowing into the bank with its' hydroelectric projects nearing completion.
"We anticipate being online with number two late next week and possibly number one in mid April," said Rita Potts of the White River Hydroelectric Project.
Potts says the other facility lock and dam three is already working at half capacity. The facilities will generate around three million dollars of revenue a year. The money will go to the city of Batesville, Independence County, Lyon College and primarily paying off what has become an expensive project.
"The project has cost significantly more than what we originally projected," said Potts.
It will take about 30 years to pay off the bonds for this project, but despite having issued new bonds twice, the project is in good shape financially.
"We're not over our final budget," said Potts.
Thousands of people visit Batesville Riverwalk Park each year because of the natural beauty, but construction has left part of the park in disarray. However, the White River Hydroelectric Project says they have already put a half million dollars of improvements into the park and when they are finished with construction it will be better than ever.
"The project will be an educational tool for schools. We have an exhibit room there at the site that will be available for tours," said Potts.
The project is being monitored nationwide to determine if other counties should begin similar programs. For Independence County, they feel they are ahead of the curve.
"We're doing what congress is trying to get people to do by developing natural resources," said Potts.
The other major question with this project is why can't Independence County use these power plants for electricity in the county?