El Paso Electric puts two power plants units into operation

El Paso Electric (EPE) said March 20 that commercial operation has started for the first two generating units at the Montana Power Station, according to GenerationHub.

The two 88 MW simple-cycle aero-derivative combustion turbines are fired by natural gas. The technology provides quick start capabilities, allowing the units to go from offline to full output in less than 10 minutes, thus increasing overall power grid stability.

Said Tom Shockley, El Paso Electric CEO: “Several years ago, we began planning and investing to replace our less efficient plant and equipment while providing additional resources for our growing service territory. The completion of our major construction projects, including our clean burning natural gas units and utility-scale solar generation, will efficiently provide the power necessary to meet the growing needs of our region.”

Construction of the second phase of the project includes Units 3 and 4, which is anticipated to begin later this year. This second set of two 88 MW turbines will be completed in 2016.

EPE has placed in service about $1.3 billion in new assets over the last six years, including MPS Units 1 and 2 and the recently completed Eastside Operations Center.

Said Mary Kipp, El Paso Electric President: “Our vision for providing reliable, safe, clean and affordable energy is through the addition of natural gas-fired generation and cost competitive renewables. This carefully designed mix of solar and local clean burning natural gas generation will provide the energy hardworking families and businesses in our service territory need 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

Construction on MPS Units 1 and 2 began in June 2014 after EPE obtained the necessary regulatory approvals from the Public Utility Commission of Texas, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

El Paso Electric is a regional electric utility providing generation, transmission and distribution service to about 400,000 retail and wholesale customers in a 10,000 square mile area of the Rio Grande valley in west Texas and southern New Mexico. El Paso Electric has a net dependable generating capability of 2,010 MW.

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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.

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