Heart of Texas Companies Explore Renewable Energies
Natural resources abound in the Heart of Texas. And companies operating in the six-county Central Texas region are aggressively seeking opportunities to develop those resources – not only to reap profits that bolster local tax revenues but also to develop sustainable technologies that promise to generate new, cost-effective energy sources.
Examples are numerous.
Through its reclamation initiatives of mined land in Fairfield, mining company Luminant Energy is creating opportunities for agricultural and other economic sectors. Fairfield-based start-up Clean Energy Technology Association Inc. is working on clean coal and sulfur reduction projects. And the build-out of the Sandy Creek Power Generation Facility in McLennan County is being designed to pulverize coal from the Powder River Basin to provide service for high-electric-use industries.
Sandy Creek to Provide Electricity Statewide
The Sandy Creek Power Generation Facility will bring many benefits to the region, according to Jim Lewis, McLennan county judge, who noted that some 1,500 workers are being employed during the construction phase with 100 full-time permanent positions expected once the plant is operational.
"It will provide electricity not only here but all over the state," Lewis says. "Any time you have that kind of economic impact, it is not only good for our county but also the surrounding area." Construction of the plant in Riesel, Texas, near Waco, began in April 2008 and is expected to begin commercial operation in 2012.
The 900-megawatt facility will include a super-critical steam generator and advanced emission controls, a selective catalytic reduction system, scrubbers and a continuous emissions monitoring system, according to the owners, which include Houston-based Dynegy Inc.
CETA Tests Alternative Energy Solutions
Clean Energy Technology Association, or CETA, is using its ingenuity to explore alternative sources of energy, according the organization’s chairman, Roy W. Hill. "We are exploring environmentally cleaner technologies that have not been developed and are 'outside the box' to hopefully make a big change in how energy is produced in this country and abroad," Hill says.
CETA is working with a range of resources, including solar, water, wind, nuclear, oil, natural gas, coal, energy efficiency and biomass. "We are intent on actually building plants incorporating these new technologies, not simply talking about building them," Hill says.
Among its initiatives, CETA expects its manufacturing processes to develop various products, such as oils that can be processed into synthetic transportation fuels, plastics, lubricants and molecules that will used to make pharmaceuticals, dyes, cosmetics and resins.
Utilizing Local Talent
Vital to the start-up's anticipated success is leveraging the talents and resources of the local community.
"When possible, we hire local employees and contractors for our company," Hill says. "We also buy products and services locally, increasing jobs and economic vitality of the region. While our new technologies can be applied anywhere in the world, we have decided to start the company in Fairfield to utilize local knowledge and expertise in the energy industry and to support economic growth in this region."
Nearby, Luminant Energy, a competitive power-generation business subsidiary of Dallas-based Energy Future Holdings Corp., has won a number of awards for reclamation excellence in its mining activities. In Fairfield the company has reclaimed 15,000 of the 20,000 acres it has mined by replanting trees and grass and restoring a nearby creek. Luminant estimates that increased potential production gained from postmine soils could boost the Freestone County’s agricultural economy by $21 million over the next 20 years.