Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC), based in Little Rock, is proud to provide power for more than 500,000 members of Arkansas' 17 electric distribution cooperatives. Long considered one of the top generation and transmission cooperatives in the nation, AECC has assets of about $1.6 billion and annual energy sales of about $736 million. AECC provides power to its members - the 17 electric distribution cooperatives - through its diverse generation assets, which include three hydropower plants; three natural gas/oil-based plants and four natural gas-based-only plants. AECC also co-owns portions of four low-cost coal-based plants. The cooperative has long-term power purchase agreements for 201 megawatts of wind energy and four megawatts of biomass energy generated by a northwest Arkansas landfill. And when it is more economical to purchase power on the wholesale market than to run its plants, AECC's dispatchers do so to save its members money.
AECC was created in 1949 to provide Arkansas' electric cooperatives with a reliable and affordable power supply. At the time, the cooperatives were faced with rising electricity costs and shrinking power supplies. At the root of the problem was the cooperatives' dependence on investor-owned utilities for wholesale power. Although the cooperatives had built their own distribution systems - the lines and wires that transport electricity to their members - they had not built power plants and were prohibited by state law from doing so.
In 1961, after several hard-fought legislative and court battles, AECC was finally free to build its first power plant, the Thomas B. Fitzhugh Generating Station at Ozark. This natural gas/oil-based plant was completed in 1963 at a cost of $7.5 million. Three years later, AECC built the Carl E. Bailey Generating Station at Augusta, followed by the John L. McClellan Generating Station at Camden in 1972.
In the 1970s and early 1980s, AECC formed partnerships with other utilities to share the costs of building three coal-based power plants - the Flint Creek Power Plant near Gentry, the White Bluff Steam Electric Station at Redfield, and the Independence Steam Electric Station near Newport. These plants are fueled by low-sulfur coal from Wyoming, which keeps air emissions in line with federal and state requirements.