HELENA, Ark. -- At 7 a.m. today the remaining two massive components of the Robert E. Ritchie power plant came crashing to the ground as a controlled implosion toppled what was left of the 51-year-old generating facility.
Today's implosion began the final stage of the plant's demolition. Work crews began in June 2014 preparing the site for an implosion last Oct. 24, which brought down one of two remaining boilers. The second and larger boiler, along with a 450-foot emissions stack, were toppled in dramatic fashion today.
The plant was retired from service in 2013 as part of a process to modernize the company's generating portfolio to match ongoing and projected supply needs. Over the next several months, workers will clear the debris and return the site to a state in which it can be used for something else.
"Going back more than 100 years, Arkansas has been on the frontier of modern electricity," said Hugh McDonald, president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas, Inc. "We must continue to anticipate and plan for the electrical needs of our customers well into the future. This is just one of the many steps in modernizing our part of the electrical grid and, at the same time, making this space available for something productive."
Built during the 1960's, The Ritchie Plant housed three units that could produce 918 megawatts of electricity. To properly dismantle the facilities, Entergy has contracted with PRC Environmental, Inc. to handle the project. Plans are to remove all of the site's above-ground structures, with the exception of the transmission switchyard.
The Ritchie units include:
· Unit 1, 356-megawatt gas/oil-fired unit, built in 1961, placed in inactive reserve in 2008. This is the unit that was imploded today.
· Unit 2, 544-megawatt gas/oil-fired unit, built in 1965, placed in inactive reserve in 2000. This is the unit that was imploded last October.
· Unit 3, 18-megawatt gas turbine, built in 1969, placed in inactive reserve in 2012.
Within the last eight years, Entergy Arkansas has acquired two modern, highly efficient natural-gas-burning power plants -- one near Malvern and one near Monroe, Louisiana -- and is in the process of acquiring a third near El Dorado. In addition, the company announced in April plans to enter into an agreement to buy all the output from an 81-megawatt solar farm to be built near Stuttgart. Entergy Arkansas' biggest power source, however, is nuclear, accounting for 71 percent of the company's generation in 2014 and making Entergy Arkansas one of the cleanest electric utilities in the country.
Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 700,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Arkansas is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation, 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 nearly 10,000 megawatts of nuclear power, making it one of the nation's leading nuclear generators. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.8 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of more than $12 billion and approximately 13,000 employees.