Panda gets financing for long-planned 758-MW Temple gas plant

Panda Power Funds said July 18 that affiliate Panda Temple Power LLC has successfully lined up financing for its long-planned 758-MW combined-cycle natural gas power plant in Temple, Texas.

The company said in a news release it will immediately start building on a 250-acre site and commercial operation should begin at Temple by the end of 2014.

“It has been an uphill battle, in a very difficult financial market, to get this project off the drawing board and out of the ground,” said Panda Power Funds President and Senior Partner Todd Carter. “Since the beginning, our team never lost sight that Texas needs the power. Thanks to our financial partners, our Panda team and the strong backing of state and local officials, the State of Texas will soon be the beneficiary of critically needed electricity, more jobs and greater economic development.”

Panda Energy International did much of the early development work back in the pre-recession days of 2007. Panda Funds subsequently acquired the development rights to Temple from Panda Energy, a Panda Funds spokesperson told GenerationHub.

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) fears it might have a tough time meeting peak loads in the near future in part because a number of coal plants could be forced to retire early by tougher U.S. EPA standards.

“The state of Texas is desperate for power,” said the Panda Funds spokesperson, who added there should not be a problem finding demand for the new combined-cycle plant.

The Temple facility will use the latest combustion turbine and emissions-control technology and should be one of the cleanest natural gas plants in the nation, Panda said.

Temple can provide baseload power and also backup wind

Panda Funds expects that Temple will primarily act as a baseload plant, but it will also have the ability to start generating power within minutes. That’s a big deal in Texas with its growing reliance on intermittent wind energy, said the Panda Funds spokesperson.

Panda Power Funds selected a turn-key construction consortium of Bechtel and Siemens Energy Inc. to build the plant. The firms are two of the largest power contractors and technology providers in the world, Panda noted.

An estimated 700-to-800 people will be employed to construct the Temple power plant at peak construction. During operations, the station will create an estimated 27 skilled jobs to operate the facility and 45 indirect jobs within the community to support the plant, Panda said, citing an economic impact study.

The Temple power plant website indicates that developers eventually hope to build two combined-cycle power plants at the South Temple Industrial Park in Central Texas. The website also indicated that the air permit for the project was secured in late 2008. Natural gas will be supplied from the Barnett Shale and other basins. Panda Funds is not releasing a cost estimate for the power station.

Temple is located in Bell County, Texas, which is in Central Texas. Temple is 65 miles north of Austin and 34 miles south of Waco.

The Dallas-based Panda Power Funds group has the ability to internally source and develop, acquire, invest in, and operate large-scale, natural gas-fueled power generation facilities. The company recently built a utility-scale, 20-MW solar farm in New Jersey.

Altogether, Panda has raised almost U.S. $6bn to develop and build more than 9,000 MW of generating capacity. In Texas, Panda is also developing the 784-MW (maximum and 500-MW nominal) Sherman combined-cycle gas plant.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at wayneb@pennwell.com.