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Texas city tells ERCOT it plans to operate coal-fired plant seasonally

The Texas city of Garland, near Dallas, has told the Electric Reliability Council of Texas it plans to mothball its 470-MW coal-fired plant on a seasonal basis, starting October 17.

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In a suspension of operations notice filed with ERCOT late Wednesday, Garland said it now wants its Gibbons Creek plant in Grimes County to operate June 1 to September 30 each year.

According to S&P Global Market Intelligence data, the plant was put in service in 1983 and is currently operated by the Texas Municipal Power Agency. The capacity factor for the plant peaked at over 99% in July 2011 for the past seven years, when the peakload in the footprint for the month hit over 65 GW.

However, the capacity factor has averaged over 39% so far this year through April, while the average for 2016 was slightly higher at over 40%.

Moreover, the non-fuel variable operating and maintenance cost for the units averaged $3.97/MWh for 2016, whereas the five-year average was around $3.26/MWh. The fixed operating and maintenance cost has also increased to $12.7 million in 2016 from about $12.4 million in 2012.

Coal burn of the units for 2016 has totaled over 1 million st, reaching as high as 130,000 st in August. The delivered coal cost averaged over $34.16/st in 2016.

The plant was reported to be sold to Clean Energy Technology Association for $57.5 million in an announcement in November 11, 2016.

In a separate filing response from ERCOT Thursday, the ISO said it determined that Union Carbide's 40-MW, gas-fired plant was not needed to support transmission system reliability, effective from September 29.

ERCOT's standard process following a suspension of operations notice is to perform a reliability must run review to determine whether there is a transmission-related reliability risk associated with taking a unit offline.

--Jeff Zhou,

--Edited by Richard Rubin,