The general manager of Bryan Texas Utilities said Friday reports that the coal-fired Gibbons Creek Generation Station in Grimes County could reopen are premature.
A Wednesday article in the Houston Chronicle credits the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the state’s electricity grid manager, with announcing the plant’s reopening in summer 2021. The article mentions that in October 2019, the plant’s owners, the Texas Municipal Power Agency, would be closing the plant “for good.” It cites TEERP Power Station LLC as the new owner of the plant, as stated in records from the state grid manager.
BTU is one of four entities — including the cities of Garland, Denton and Greenville — that comprise the Texas Municipal Power Agency. BTU General Manager Gary Miller said Friday that though TMPA does have a potential buyer lined up for the Gibbons Creek plant, it has not yet sold.
“We are still in negotiations,” he stated.
ERCOT’s model for 2021 listed a Gibbons Creek plant running under the potential new owner’s name, Miller said. An ERCOT project details model provided to The Eagle by the agency does show the plant listed with TEERP Power Station as an “interconnecting entity.” Miller said he could not comment on whether TEERP was the potential buyer in negotiations with TMPA.
“The new owners of Gibbons Creek are going through our normal interconnection process to come back online,” wrote ERCOT spokesperson Leslie Sopko in an email. “The project is 420 [megawatts] and is expected to be available for summer 2021. ... The plant is included in the Capacity, Demand and Reserve Report, which we released [Thursday].”
Miller confirmed that TMPA did close the plant permanently in recent years.
“Since that time we have been seeking potential purchasers of the property, because we didn’t need it anymore,” he said. “We have been working with a potential buyer for a considerable time now, and one of the things they have been doing is talking with ERCOT.”
Miller said TMPA has contracts with wind and solar entities, therefore about 15% of power used by entities such as BTU will consist of solar and wind sources starting in 2022. The remainder of BTU’s energy sources will consist of local natural gas plants and a market power mix of solar, wind, natural gas, coal and nuclear energy. While moving to solar and wind energy sources is considered an added environmental benefit, Miller said, TMPA’s decision to close Gibbons Creek was purely of an economic interest.
“We are indifferent to whatever anybody would want to use the [Gibbons Creek] property for,” Miller said. “[The buyer] may have legitimate reasons for using it as a coal-fired power plant. We did not anymore.”
TMPA has made an effort to sell the 6,500-acre plant in years past. In a Nov. 11, 2016, Eagle article, TMPA’s board had approved a resolution authorizing the sale to Clean Energy Technology Association for $57.5 million, estimated to result in lower rates for BTU customers. However, a July 25, 2017, Eagle article notes that 70 jobs were slated to be lost at the plant when the sale fell through.
A contact for TEERP could not be located for comment.