Power Plant Energizes Waco, TX Area Economy
The Sandy Creek Energy Station in Riesel, TX
The Sandy Creek Energy Station in Riesel, Texas is one of the largest new coal projects in the U. S. and is expected to generate electricity for more than 900,000 Texas homes and businesses.
The $1 billion price tag is enough to make the Sandy Creek Power Generation Facility get noticed, but supporters say that job creation and ongoing tax revenue are what make the project really stand out.
“At its construction peak, it will have around 1,200 employees out there, and then there will be around 100 permanent direct jobs,” says McLennan County Judge Jim Lewis. “And that doesn’t factor in indirect employment not only in our county but surrounding counties.”
As far as the tax rolls are concerned, the plant boosts McLennan from about $7 billion to more than $11 billion, an increase that will allow for enhanced municipal services as well as a faster track for infrastructure and other improvements and enhancements the area needs to remain competitive for business relocation and expansion.
The project is led by Sandy Creek Energy Associates LP, a joint venture between subsidiaries of Houston-based Dynergy Inc. and LS Power Group of New Jersey. The 900-megawatt facility will operate by pulverizing coal from the Powder River Basin and have the latest in emission-reduction technology, according to Dynergy officials. Local provider Brazos Electric Cooperative also is participating in the project, through both direct ownership and 150 megawatts of output.
The plant currently is set to come online in 2012 and has all of its permits. Among its high-tech equipment are low-NOx burners, a selective catalytic reduction system, scrubbers and a continuous emissions monitoring system. Once running, it will be selling energy into the Electric Reliability Council of Texas and provide energy for around 100,000 homes and businesses.
On the ground in McLennan County, however, it’s all about the jobs and about how a massive project such as this can be a game-changer for years to come when talking about economic development in the area, Lewis says.
“By the time the investment in the plant is over, others will be able to look at our local power grid and see what we can offer,” he says. “It may not be something that we can use to bring other energy providers in here, but just about any industry that has a heavy demand for electricity will be looking at us now.”
The site-selection committee looked at land all over Texas and elsewhere, so successfully landing the facility took about four years and a lot of cooperation – efforts that will pay off down the road as this project matures, Lewis predicts.
“There was a lot of hard work, and we benefited from some timing issues,” Lewis says. “But with what it’s doing for jobs, and for our tax base, it was very worth it. This has definitely been a good move for McLennan County.”