Dallas, September 6, 2012 — Panda Power Funds and officials from across Texas broke ground on a 758-MW natural gas-fueled, combined-cycle power plant in Temple, Texas. When complete, the facility will provide electricity for about 750,000 homes in the Central Texas area.
The Temple plant is a step forward for Texas, which is in need of additional power. During the summer of 2011, the state endured record heat, forcing the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state's grid operator, to declare six power emergencies.
ERCOT's latest forecast shows reserves declining to 9.8 percent in 2014 and 6.9 percent in 2015 — below the 13.75 percent reserve requirement necessary for grid reliability. The plant is scheduled to enter commercial operation by the end of 2014.
The Panda project saw institutional investors finance a capital-intensive construction project with a term loan. Morgan Stanley and Ares Capital arranged the senior debt financing for the Temple plant.
Texas is in need of generation that can quickly ramp up to meet power demand. Texas currently leads the country in wind power generation with more than 22 percent of the nation's installed capacity. According to state records, wind's share of electric generation in the region vaulted from 2.9 percent in 2007 to 10.2 percent during the first six months of 2012.
As a result, Texas' electrical grid has been subject to increased volatility in recent years as wind power can suddenly drop offline when the wind stops blowing. A natural gas power plant must then step in to quickly make up for the lost power.
To meet this need, Panda designed the Temple generating station as a quick-start power plant. Power generation is expected to commence within 10 minutes of startup, reaching full gas turbine power production within about 30 minutes.
By closing the generating gap caused by intermittent renewable energy, the Panda Temple plant is able to help support both the integrity of the state's electric grid and the development of additional renewable generation in Texas. The quick-start gas turbines will reduce total startup emissions as well.
Accordingly, the Panda Temple plant will use emissions-control technology to control carbon monoxide emissions to less than 10 parts-per-million, and nitrogen oxide emissions to less than 2.0 ppm.
Additionally, the plant has been designed with gas turbines that operate at a higher power output during high temperature conditions. This capability is ideal for the ERCOT market as Texas' recent hot summers have put an increased strain on the state's power grid, which is already stressed with the fastest growing population in the country.
The Panda Temple generation facility will be built by a turn-key construction consortium of Bechtel and Siemens Energy Inc. Bechtel will be responsible for the engineering and procurement for the balance of the plant, and the installation, construction and commissioning of the facility.
The plant will be located at the Synergy Industrial Park in South Temple. The turbines and generators will be manufactured at Siemens' factory in Charlotte, North Carolina.