El Paso Electric seeks approvals in two states for Texas plant additions

The Public Utility Commission of Texas is taking intervention requests until Oct. 21 in a case begun Sept. 6 by El Paso Electric where it is requesting approval for two additional peaking units at its unbuilt Montana power plant near the city of El Paso.

El Paso Electric (EPE) also applied on Sept. 6 with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission for approval of these latest two units. The commissions in both states had previously approved two 88-MW, gas-fired units at the Montana site, which haven’t been built yet. EPE now wants approvals for a second pair of 88-MW units.

EPE is seeking from the Texas commission to amend its Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN) for two 88-MW natural gas-fired units to be constructed at the Montana Power Station in El Paso County, east of the city of El Paso. The new units are called Montana Units 3 and 4. There are currently two identical generating units (called Montana Units 1 and 2) planned for the same site, which were certificated by the Texas commission in December 2012.

“The new facilities were selected through a competitive bidding process and are needed to accommodate growth in demand and replace older, less efficient generators that are currently expected to be retired,” said the Sept. 6 EPE application filed in Texas. “Montana Units 3 and 4 are scheduled to be in service for the peak seasons of 2016 and 2017, respectively, and will be operated as peaking and intermediate generating resources.”

As is the case for Montana Units 1 and 2, the proposed Montana Units 3 and 4 will bebased on the same technology as Rio Grande Unit 9, which was recently completed, and for which EPE recently received CCN authorization. All of the new units will be among the most efficient gas-fired generation on EPE’s system. The units will operate primarily as peaking facilities. However, because of their efficiency, the units will also be operated as intermediate units when the economics call for such operation. In addition, the aeroderivative technology that will be used in the project will provide other benefits such as quick start capability (only three minutes), and a relatively short time to achieve full power production (10 minutes), EPE noted.

EPE has filed two CCN applications for the transmission and interconnection facilities necessary for the first two units. EPE anticipates that it will file a third transmission CCN later this year for facilities that will be required for those times when all four units at the Montana Power Station are generating power.

The total direct capital cost of Montana Units 3 and 4 combined (excluding the associated transmission facilities) is estimated to be $140.2m. In addition, the estimated amount of allowance for funds used during construction is $17.1m.

EPE issued a competitive solicitation for long-term power resources through a Request for Proposals (RFP) in June 2011. The RFP solicited bids for 80 to 100 MW in 2014, 80 to 100 MW in 2015, and 160 to 200 MW in 2016. Based on an evaluation of the bids EPE received using economic and other criteria, along with the oversight of an independent evaluator, EPE selected a proposal for EPE to build four units, each an 88 MW simple cycle, gas-fired combustion turbine at an undeveloped site east of the city of El Paso.

The Montana plant site is located north and west of the Magellan Pipeline Co.’s El Paso Terminal located at 13551 Montana Avenue Street. The site is bordered on the north by Fort Bliss and on the south by Montana Avenue (State Highway 62/180), which gives the site its name. The generation will consist of simple cycle combustion turbine generating units using General Electric‘s aeroderivative LMS100 technology.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.