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$450M Power Plant Lights Up Texas Cities

Sat April 22, 2000 - West Edition
C.J. Wright

The fact that Texas continues to place second in population nationwide behind California is not surprising. It’s a big state, and it’s growing. The United States Census Bureau’s statistics for the period between July 1, 1998 and July 1, 1999 support that fact. Estimates for that year showed that Texas ranked third behind Utah and Alaska in population growth. Consequently, the construction industry is booming and, to satisfy demand, energy plants are springing up all over the state. In an effort to meet this growing need, Texas Independent Energy (TIE), a 50-50 joint venture between Panda Energy International Inc. and PSEG Global Inc., formed in 1999 to develop and operate high efficiency, low-cost electric power-generating plants in Texas.

In June 1999, TIE broke ground on its first plant, a 1,000-megawatt, greenfield power plant in Guadalupe County, just south of the city of New Braunfels, TX. TIE reported that with its advanced technology, the plant would require one-third less fuel and water as compared to conventional power plants.

Beginning with detailed engineering, Duke/Fluor Daniel, based in Charlotte, NC, took on the turnkey project that also includes procurement, construction, and start-up services. Duke/Fluor Daniel Project Manager Brad Friesen explained that the combined cycle power plant features four General Electric frame 7FA gas turbines, two General Electric steam turbines, and four Aalborg Industries heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs). “Ultimately the GE Frame 7FA gas turbines are the best fit for the project, considering price, performance, schedule, and other factors,” Friesen said, describing the turbines and generators.

State-of-the-art equipment brings efficiency and pollution control, making emissions extremely low. As Friesen explained, turbine technology, particularly the gas turbines, is evolving quite rapidly. Improved combustion technology, resulting in increased firing temperatures and efficiencies while at the same time reducing emissions, he said, has been an evolving technology that industry continues to develop.

Being built on a 100-acre site, the plant is an outdoor facility with the equipment all set outside. Three prefab buildings will be erected to accommodate a control room and administration and warehouse facilities, for a total of 2,151 square meters (23,900 sq. ft.) of building space.

Although the turbines are basically pre-assembled and shipped to the site, a large number of ancillary components and equipment comes separately to be assembled on site. As a subcontractor, Aalborg Industries, the manufacturer of the heat recovery steam generators (HRSGs) will also erect them on site.

At peak, Duke/Fluor Daniel expects to have a work force of 800 people, including both direct hire and subcontractors. February saw construction about 25 percent complete, with four cranes, including two 4100 Manitowoc cranes, off-loading equipment. James Construction, based in Louisiana and a subcontractor of Duke/Fluor Daniel, employed company-owned Caterpillar equipment to clear the site. Among the major pieces of equipment employed were 315-metric-ton (350 ton) excavators, B400 articulated end dumps, and D-8 dozers. According to James Construction’s site supervisor, Matt Milton, the excavation went smoothly, although they did have to apply water to the site because of the dry conditions.

After site preparation was finished, foundations were poured using about 19,000 cubic meters (25,000 cu. yds.) of concrete. Most of the foundations were set on auger cast piles, dug to a depth of 12 meters (40 ft.). Work had begun on the superstructures, with about 50 percent of the 720 metric tons (800 tons) of structural steel in place. Boilers were being erected and cooling towers were close to 50 percent complete.

More than 30,303 meters (100,000 ft.) of piping will be installed in the facility. Charles Librizzi, project manager at TIE, explained that two natural gas lines would come onto the site. The facility will tie into a PG&E natural gas pipeline that is on the perimeter of their property. A second line will run for about 2.5 miles to interconnect with an Oasis Pipe Line Company Texas L. P. metering station, thus providing the facility with two gas sources. Another pipeline will bring in water from the Guadalupe River, about five miles away. The plant is expected to use about 30.4 million liters (8 million gal.) of water per day.

“The Guadalupe project is a zero liquid discharge facility,” Friesen said. “We use river water for makeup from the Guadalupe River. It’s piped into the project and then we use it all. We don’t waste any water; all the impurities are reduced to a solid cake which is taken to a landfill.”

Financed by ING Barings of New York, the $450-million merchant plant does not currently have firm power sales agreements with any utility, according to Librizzi. It will tie into the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) Marion Substation and feed into the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) system, which serves the majority of the state. All power that is generated will remain within the state. Phase I is scheduled to begin operations in December 2000, with Phase II slated for March 2001.

Construction on a second 1000 MW generating facility, partnering Duke/Fluor Daniel and TIE, recently began in Odessa, TX.

Panda Energy International, one half of the TIE joint venture, is a long-established privately held company headquartered in Dallas. Recognized as a visionary in the development of independent merchant power plants, it operates plants in North Carolina and Maryland. Additional projects are under construction in Arkansas, Oklahoma, China, and Nepal.

PSEG Global Inc., the other half of the TIE joint venture, is headquartered in Parsippany, NJ. It develops, owns, and operates private power and distribution facilities with 37 projects operating 5,000 MW to 25 million customers in South America, China, India, and the United States.

Duke Energy Corp and Fluor Daniel combined in 1989 to form Duke/Fluor Daniel, a company that provides comprehensive engineering, procurement, construction, and operating plant services for fossil-fueled electric power generation facilities worldwide.

Fluor Daniel is the engineering, procurement and construction unit of Fluor Corporation. In 1999 Fluor Corp. revenues were $12.4 billion.

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