Panda Power Funds, a Dallas power plant developer, announced Thursday that they have secured financing for a 758-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant to be built in the small Central Texas town of Temple. The natural gas plant scheduled to be on line in 2014, will power approximately 750,000 homes in Central and North Texas, and be among the cleanest fossil-fuel generating plants in the U.S.
"The plant will provide power necessary to locate future industries and jobs in the Central Texas area, and enhance Temple's economy in the near term as well", said Temple Mayor Bill Jones.
According to an analysis by Impact Data Source of Austin the Temple plant is expected to bring $1.6 billion into the area's economy during the construction and the plant's first 10 years of operation, employing an estimated 800 people in the construction phase , and offer close to 80 jobs that are directly or indirectly connected to the natural gas plant's operation.
"It has been an uphill battle, in a very difficult financial market, to get this project off the drawing board and out of the ground", said Todd W. Carter, president and senior partner of Panda Power Funds. " Since the beginning, our team never lost sight that Texas needs the power".
The Electric Reliability Council (ERCOT), the grid operator for Texas, released a study in May saying that Texas, due to its growing population and strong economic growth, faces potential electricity shortage in the coming decade, and that without conservation or new plants the state by 2020 will be unable to meet demand on the hottest days.
But the solution is near. By 2003 there were concern that US gas production had hit an all-time peak. But the large quantities of shale gas enabled by horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing has given natural gas a prominent place in today's U.S energy portfolio. And that's good news for Texas. For not only is the state the largest natural gas producing state, it is also the third-largest natural gas producer after Russia and the United States.
According to a study by Dr. Fred C. Beach at the University of Texas at Austin fuel-switching from coal to gas in the power sector, from petroleum to gas in the transportation sector, and from electricity to gas in the residential sector will have significant economic and environmental benefits for Texas.