By Liviu Oltean, Associate Editor
NRG Energy Inc. recently announced that it has begun work on a 360-megawatt, natural gas-fired peaking plant on a 230-acre site near Bacliff. Upon completion, the plant is expected to power more than 70,000 homes during peak time.
The site of the new facility is part of the former PH Robinson power plant, which was decommissioned in 2009 and demolished in 2012. Upon build out, natural gas will power six GE 7E economical, fast-start combustion turbines. In addition, consistent with Texas’ water constraints, the units will not require water for cooling purposes and will have the potential to help integrate wind and solar power into the ERCOT grid.
“NRG is working hard to meet the electricity needs of the Houston area today and in the future as our region continues to grow,” said John Ragan, executive vice president of NRG and president of NRG’s Gulf Coast region. “The Houston area, and in fact the entire state, is challenged with shrinking reserve margins. Rather than building costly new transmission lines and impacting hundreds of private property owners, NRG is investing in new generation, close to the homes and businesses that need it. This is the most efficient, cost-effective way to ensure reliability for this region.”
The facility is being built by a partnership between BTEC Turbines and Rockland Capital for $400 per kilowatt. The price is significantly lower than that of a new peaking plant because the gas turbines will be relocated from a site in New Albany.
Furthermore, NRG has two other 850-megawatt facilities planned for the Houston region. The company received a green light from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for one of them and is expecting approval for the second one in early 2015. “When economics allow us to build these additional units, NRG wants to be ready to bring them online as quickly as possible to meet the growing demand in Houston with new natural gas plants,” Ragan added in an official statement.