Pedernales Electric Cooperative’s primary wholesale power supplier, the Lower Colorado River Authority, dedicated its new Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant on Lake LBJ in Horseshoe Bay Oct. 15. The new 540-megawatt combined-cycle natural gas power plant is producing power for the state’s electric grid as one of the newest and most efficient, reliable electricity generating facilities in Texas.
LCRA invited PEC Board directors and Co-op executives to the dedication ceremony for the new plant, which was constructed next to and replaces the original 420-megawatt Ferguson plant built in 1974.
“This is an advanced, world-class power plant,” said PEC Board President Dr. Patrick Cox. “Not only is it efficient and clean, but it is also in our service area. We commend LCRA for investing in local and environmentally responsible energy generation and for continuing to be a stable source of power for our members.”
As a distribution cooperative, PEC does not generate the power it sells to its members. The Co-op buys electricity from wholesale suppliers, with LCRA providing the majority at around 84 percent in 2013.
LCRA’s new Ferguson plant is among the most environmentally responsible power plants in Texas, producing 30 to 40 percent fewer emissions per megawatt-hour than the original plant and using only one-third of the water of a comparably sized steam plant. The greenhouse gas permit issued for the new plant by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2011 was the first permit to be issued under new federal rules requiring power plants to utilize the best available technology to reduce greenhouse gases.
The new plant also uses about 35 percent less fuel per megawatt-hour than the original plant and incorporates advanced technology that makes it capable of starting and ramping up quickly. In addition, the plant’s water intake velocity was reduced to lessen the impact on fish and other aquatic species. LCRA also made minimizing noise from the new plant a priority, including having sound-absorbing, engineered walls surround most of it.
The original Ferguson plant was taken off line in September 2013 and is being dismantled, and the site will be restored to its pre-construction condition with backfill, topsoil and bluebonnets.
At a glance: LCRA’s new Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant
- Located on Lake LBJ in Horseshoe Bay.
- Replaced the original 420-megawatt Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant next door.
- Can generate 540 megawatts of power.
- Produces 30 to 40 percent fewer emissions, uses 35 percent less fuel per megawatt-hour and uses about one-third less water than the original plant.
- Construction generated about $25 million for the local community.
- Groundbreaking took place on April 27, 2012, dedication was on Oct. 15, 2014, and completion is scheduled for the end of November 2014.