Powering Life in the River Valley

Story by Guest Writer

Photo by Liz Chrisman

Story by TAYLOR KENDRICK

Arkansas Nuclear One has been powering Pope County and the state of Arkansas for decades. ANO strives to be a good neighbor to the Russellville and River Valley communities as a source of safe, clean, secure and reliable power. The station currently employs more than 1,100 full-time nuclear professionals with an annual payroll of about $84 million. In addition, hundreds of baseline contractors are employed to assist in daily plant activities each year and hundreds of long-term contract personnel assist in completing major site projects.

The facility has a significant economic impact, both as a strong work place and as a source of community grants and volunteers. Its carbon-free electricity powers a clean, healthy environment.

The site is home to two pressurized water reactors. ANO Unit 1 began commercial operations Dec. 19, 1974, followed less than six years later by Unit 2, which began commercial operations March 26, 1980. For more than 40 years, the station has provided low cost power to customers in Arkansas, including the River Valley. The two units at ANO have enough capacity to supply most of the power used by Entergy Arkansas commercial and residential customers. The two units generate enough power to meet approximately 56 percent of the total energy demand of Entergy Arkansas’ 700,000 customers.

Entergy and its predecessor companies have served Arkansas customers for more than 100 years. The utility serves more than 700,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy companies have approximately 3,500 employees in Arkansas, and approximately 1,400 Entergy retirees live in Arkansas.

In addition to electricity, ANO also generates a significant positive economic impact in the River Valley. Entergy remains one of the area’s premiere employers and attracts highly-skilled, well compensated workers who live and invest in the community.

One of Entergy’s core values is a commitment to communities, and ANO employees maintain a strong presence in Russellville and the surrounding Arkansas River Valley area. Each year, grants totaling more than $100,000 are awarded to local non-profit organizations, and employees partner with Entergy Corporation to donate in excess of $230,000 to the River Valley United Way for distribution to its partner agencies.

Arkansas Nuclear One History
The Arkansas Nuclear One power plant, located a few miles west of Russellville in Pope County, is the state’s only operational nuclear power plant. Entergy Arkansas, Inc., owns and operates it. ANO is one of six nuclear sites, with eight reactors, owned and operated by Entergy Corporation. In addition, Entergy provides management services to another reactor owned by the Nebraska Public Power District.

In the 1950s and 1960s, nuclear power was deemed to be a clean and efficient source of electricity, and nuclear power plants began to be constructed nationwide. Arkansas’s first nuclear reactor, ANO Unit 1 brought the state into the nuclear age of power. Later, Unit 1 was joined by ANO Unit 2. Bechtel Power engineered both units. Both are pressurized light water reactors.

The Babcock & Wilcox Company constructed the ANO 1 reactor, and Westinghouse developed the generator. When the unit went online, it was listed with a capacity of 836 megawatts (MWe) of electrical output but was upgraded to 846 MWe. At the end of 2003, the unit was operating at 91.2 percent capacity and generated nearly 6.8 million kilowatt hours of energy. ANO 1’s current license allows the plant to continue operations through May 20, 2034.

Combustion Engineering developed the ANO 2 reactor, and General Electric built the generator. When the unit went online, it was rated 858 MWe. It later was upgraded in capacity to 930 MWe. As of 2008, the unit was running at 83 percent capacity, generation more than 6.1 million kilowatt hours of energy. In 2008, ANO 2 was averaging 92 percent of capacity, ranking it among the world’s highest in capacity utilization. Its 2008 output was 8 million kilowatt hours. The license for ANO 1 was to expire in 2014, and the license for ANO 2 was to expire in 2018, but both units have been approved for a 20-year extension by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

The most notable feature on the 1,100-acre site is the 447-foot hyperbolic cooling tower, visible for miles. The plant uses water from the 34,300-acre Lake Dardanelle (also known as Dardanelle Reservoir) for its cooling units. Lake water never touches the nuclear reactors and remains clean.

Electrifying the Economy
In addition to electricity, ANO continuously generates a significant positive economic impact in the River Valley. Entergy remains one of the area’s premier employers and attracts highly skilled, talented and well-trained workers who live and invest in the community.

During a typical refueling and maintenance outage, about 1,000 additional workers – including hundreds of local workers – are hired to assist plant employees complete required maintenance activities.

Many workers travel to the area and are patrons of local hotels, restaurants and stores for up to a month or more during a given outage.

Economic gains are also realized through the annual purchase of materials, services and fuel from more than 175 Arkansas companies totaling well over $10 million. The plant pays about $9 million in state and local taxes, which helps sustain the community and public schools.

Nuclear power market
According to some United States estimates, Arkansas has ranked 19th in nuclear capacity and 20th in nuclear power generation. Currently, 45 percent of electricity in Arkansas is produced through coal and 19 percent from nuclear energy. The rest was contributed by natural gas (29 percent), hydroelectric (5 percent) and others forms.

Most of the reactors in the U.S. are more than 30 years old. Yet the country continued to rely more on nuclear power with an increase from 251 billion KWh in 1980 to 809 billion KWh just 30 years later.

To maintain the momentum, the NRC has concentrated on more efficient utilization of the existing capacity through proper maintenance and safety systems. This is being achieved by renewing the licenses at the existing nuclear plants.

By 2009, the U.S. NRC had extended the licenses of 59 reactors – more than half of all reactors in the US. Licenses for most reactors are expected to be renewed in the next 60 years. This might prompt owners to invest in upgrade of their plants during the next 30 to 40 years.

Environmental Impact
Generating electricity with nuclear energy prevents the emission of pollutants such as sulfur dioxide (SO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) and greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide (CO2) associated with burning fossil fuels.

According to 2018 data, environmental emissions avoided due to nuclear power plant operation in Arkansas included 9,505 short tons of sulfur dioxide, 6,240 short tons of nitrogen oxide and 7.9 million metric tons of CO2.

Emissions of SO2 lead to the formation of acid rain. NOx is a key precursor of both ground-level ozone and smog. Greenhouse gases like CO2 contribute to global warming.

Commitment to community
Entergy and the employees of Arkansas Nuclear One have an unwavering commitment to help the communities where we serve. Each year, grants totaling as much as $100,000 are awarded to local nonprofit organizations, while employees’ partner with Entergy Corporation to donate in excess of $200,000 to the River Valley United Way for distribution to its partner agencies.

Various employee groups give their time and efforts to the local community as well. For instance, the ANO Women in Nuclear chapter has supported the Summer Food for Kids program in addition to sponsoring foster children from the Angel Tree program at Christmas time.

ANO employees enjoy educating school groups, leading scout troops, judging science fairs, coaching sports teams and being active in religious organizations and non-profit organizations. Many also serve on various community committees and boards dedicated to enhancing the quality of life in the River Valley. Countless hours are donated each year by employees who live and raise families in the community and have a vested interest in seeing their neighbors thrive.

2019 Entergy Community Grants & Support
Entergy and ANO have supported the local community with charitable grants, not including direct donations from employees and volunteer time. Direct charitable grants have been awarded this year to the following organizations to assist in important community work:

  • Equestrian Zone Riding for a Reason
  • Dover Elementary School
  • Arkansas Center for Music Education
  • Boys and Girls Club of the River Valley
  • Arkansas Tech University
  • Russellville Junior High School
  • University of Arkansas Foundation
  • Dover High School
  • River Valley Christian Clinic
  • Russellville Development Foundation
  • River Valley Veterans Association
  • Oakland Heights Elementary
  • London Elementary School
  • River Valley child advocacy
  • The Russ Buss
  • Moreland Fire Department
  • University of Arkansas Community College
  • Superintendent of Dover public schools

Entergy Corporation (NYSE: ETR) is an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including 9,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of $11 billion and approximately 13,600 employees.l