Southwestern Electric Power Co. started commercial operation Thursday of the new 600-megawatt John W. Turk Jr. Power plant near Fulton in Hempstead County, the company said.
Construction of the coal-fired plant began in November 2008 and faced lawsuits by environmental groups attempting to stop construction. SWEPCO reached a settlement with its biggest opponents, the Hempstead County Hunting Club and other landowners, in July.
The Turk plant, on about 3,000 acres between Fulton and McNab in southwest Arkansas, is the first “ultra-supercritical generating unit” to operate in the United States, the utility said, meaning that it is designed to generate electricity at higher temperatures, require less coal and produce fewer emissions than other coal plants.
The plant will have 109 permanent positions and an estimated annual payroll of $9 million, SWEPCO said, and will serve retail and wholesale customers in Louisiana and Texas.
In Arkansas, the plant will provide electricity to the cities of Hope, Bentonville and Prescott, and members of the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp.
SWEPCO owns 73 percent of the $1.8 billion plant; the Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corp. owns 12 percent; the East Texas Electric Cooperative owns 8 percent; and the Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority, 7 percent.
Shreveport-based SWEPCO serves more than 524,000 customers in three states, including 114,000 in western Arkansas.