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Entergy Texas asks for state approval of nearly 1,000-MW gas plant

Entergy TexasInc. is asking Texas regulators to approve a new "highlyefficient and economical" combined-cycle natural gas generating unit nearWillis, Texas.

The Entergy Corp.subsidiary filed an application for a certificate of convenience and necessity, or CCN, with thePublic Utility Commission of Texasfor the planned 993-MW Montgomery County Power Station, or MCPS.

The project will boost reliability and reduce air emissionswith top quality emission control technology, according to the company. It willalso reduce fuel costs, which will help pay off the cost to build the plantwithin 10 years of its operation.

The company confirmed in May that it planned to build a new combined-cycle gas turbine powerplant on the site of its existing LewisCreek station in Montgomery County.

That site already has some of the infrastructure necessaryfor the new plant, Entergy Texas said, adding that Lewis Creek, a 460.5-MWplant that's been operating since the early 1970s, will stay in service untilthe MCPS becomes fully operational.

Entergy Texas said in its CCN application that it estimatesthe new power station will cost $937.3million, which includes transmission upgrades, a construction fund and severalother items. The MCPS "will produce an expected $1.7 billion in netbenefits to Entergy Texas' customers through supply cost savings over the unit'slife," the filing said.

Entergy Texas said in its application that the need for moregeneration in its service area is "clear and pressing" and based onits own analyses, it projects "capacitydeficits of approximately 700 MW in the year 2021, growing to 1.2 GW in 2022 and 1.7 GWby 2026."

Thedeficits, it said, are mainly due to predicted load growth of 3.6%, or 127 MW,by 2021 and 7.5%, or 268 MW, by 2026. Also, during the same time period, morethan 600 MW of PPAs are set to expire and several older generating unitstotaling more than 700 MW will be deactivated.

Additionally, the plant will "hedge against expectedcapacity shortages and price volatility in [the ],"and yield roughly $100 million in fuel cost savings in the first full year ofoperations.

If the project is approved, construction will begin in thefirst quarter of 2019, with a scheduled online date of summer 2021, accordingto Entergy Texas. The project is also expected to create more than 2,800 jobsin the state and close to $1 billion for the regional economy.

President and CEO of Entergy Texas Sallie Rainer, in astatement, called the plant a "landmark investment" and said it willreduce the company's reliance on energy markets and save customers money.