Carl E. Bailey Generating Station

The Carl E. Bailey Generating Station is located near Augusta, Arkansas. It is fueled by natural gas, but it has a back-up system for using fuel oil when necessary. The total electrical output of the Bailey Station is 122 megawatts. The Arkansas Electric Cooperative Corporation (AECC), completed construction of the station in 1966.

The history of the Bailey Station begins with the establishment of the AECC in 1949. The company’s mission was to provide reliable electricity throughout Arkansas. Before 1961 AECC was crippled due to an Arkansas law preventing electrical cooperatives from building their own power plants. After a massive legal effort, the law was changed to allow AECC to begin building stations. The first station built by AECC was the Fitzhugh Station in Ozark, which was completed in 1963 at a cost of $7.5 million. The Carl E. Bailey Station was completed three years later. AECC constructed a third station, the Hohn L McClellan Generating Station, in 1972.

The AECC portfolio of power plants produces a total of 2,977 megawatts of electricity from three natural gas plants owned by the company and three coal plants on lease. An additional simple-cycle natural gas power plant is also owned by AECC. The company also owns and operates three hydroelectric dams along the Arkansas River.

As a natural gas-fueled power plant, the Carl E Bailey Generating Station produces much less pollution than other fossil fuel-powered generating stations. The same essential technology is used for the Bailey Station as is used for coal-fired plants. The fuel is used to heat water in a boiler. The steam generated from the heated water is then directed into the turbine system. The steam spins the turbines, generating the electrical output.  In comparison to other fossil fuels, natural gas is the cleanest burning fuel. Natural gas has become extremely popular as a fuel in power plants for this reason. The two main byproducts of burning natural gas are carbon dioxide and water vapor.

During most of the 20th century, asbestos was used as heat and electrical insulation. As a natural material, it is extremely resistant to heat. Most power plants built before 1970, including the Bailey Station, used asbestos insulation during the plant’s operational life. Although the asbestos has since been replaced, fibers have been found circulating in some plants that have had their asbestos removed years prior.