Texas nears air permit decision for El Paso Electric power plant

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has on the agenda for its Dec. 11 meeting air permitting for the gas-fired Montana power plant project of El Paso Electric.

The commission will consider an Administrative Law Judge’s proposal for decision and order regarding the application of El Paso Electric for Air Quality Permit Nos. 102294 and PSD-TX-1290 that would authorize construction and operation of the Montana Power Station.

This plant would be comprised of four simple cycle combustion turbine generators located in El Paso County, Texas. Each turbine would have a maximum electric power output of as much as 100 MW. The project also includes the installation of two cooling towers, one fire water pump, and auxiliary equipment.

These would be General Electric LMS100 turbines, with each limited under the air permitting to no more than 5,000 hours of operation per year.

The utility has also been lining up other approvals for this project. For example, El Paso Electric (EPE) on Nov. 19 filed a “Notice of proposed New Capacity Addition” with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission on its plans to build Units 3 and 4 at the Montana plant.

“EPE gives notice of its decision to add new capacity to its operating system through the construction of two additional nominally rated 88 Megawatt (‘MW’) natural gas-fired power plants to be constructed at the Montana Power Station located in El Paso County, east of El Paso, Texas,” said the filing.

Note that the Texas air permitting uses 100 MW as the capacity of each of these units, apparently based on differing capacity measurement standards. The 88 MW figure used in New Mexico is based on summer conditions and the Montana Power Station’s elevation above sea level. Under a prior commission approval, EPE is now constructing Unit 1 for operation by summer 2014 and Unit 2 for operation by summer 2015.

If approved, EPE plans to complete Unit 3 by summer 2016 (with construction commencing by January 2015) and Unit 4 by summer 2017 (with a construction start by January 2015). Related and ongoing facility upgrades include an interconnection with local existing transmission lines and extension of a local intrastate natural gas pipeline.

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.