LCRA's Ferguson Replacement Project was described as efficient, environmentally responsible and economically beneficial during the new plant's groundbreaking ceremony on April 27.
Representatives from LCRA, project contractor Fluor Corporation (Fluor) and LCRA's Board of Directors joined several LCRA wholesale electric customers, elected officials and community leaders at the new plant's construction site next to the operating Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant. Speakers at the ceremony acknowledged the new plant's future contributions to LCRA's electric customers, the community, neighbors and the environment.
"The existing Ferguson plant has served LCRA and its customers well over the years, but time and technology have given us the opportunity to provide better service to the public," said LCRA Board Chair Timothy Timmerman. "This investment makes good business sense, and it will allow LCRA to continue its tradition of providing reliable, cost-based electricity to cities and cooperatives throughout Central Texas."
LCRA is replacing its 37-year-old Ferguson plant near Horseshoe Bay with a new natural gas-fired power plant that will be one of the most efficient and environmentally responsible electric generating facilities operating in Texas. The 540-megawatt combined-cycle natural gas plant will use about 35 percent less fuel than a traditional gas-fired plant by combining a gas-turbine system and a steam-cycle system to generate electricity. The combination of the cycles creates a highly efficient power plant with lower fuel costs and fewer emissions.
"This new plant will incorporate very cost-effective and clean technologies to produce electricity," said state Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay. "It will be good for the people of Texas, and especially beneficial to the area by providing another electric generation resource that will strengthen LCRA's ability to maintain reliable electric service in the Hill Country."
LCRA plans to decommission the existing plant following Fluor's two-year construction phase that is expected to bring the new power plant on-line in 2014.
"LCRA and our community have worked very well together for many years," said Horseshoe Bay Mayor Bob Lambert. "I am pleased that our citizens support such a major construction project and a new, modern plant in the middle of our city."
The groundbreaking ceremony came a little more than a week after the LCRA Board's April 18 approval of the organization's Business Plan for Fiscal Year 2013. The plan cuts $39.8 million in expenses based upon LCRA goals of developing 100,000 acre-feet of new water supplies by the end of fiscal year 2013 and holding the nonfuel rates LCRA charges its 43 wholesale electric customers flat for the next four years.
"These are new and exciting times for LCRA, and this project will play a very important role in achieving our long-term goals," said LCRA General Manager Becky Motal. "We are committed to our efforts to offer competitive electric rates to our customers and to provide the best services to the region in the most economic, efficient and reliable means possible."
Fluor currently is performing site preparation and expects construction staffing levels to reach a peak of about 450 workers in the spring and summer of 2013.
"Fluor is pleased to participate in today's groundbreaking ceremony and the opportunity to partner with LCRA and the local community on the design and construction of the Ferguson Replacement Project," said Dave Dunning, president of Fluor's Power Group. "Fluor's experience building power plants in Texas, together with our more than 30 gigawatts of gas-fired design, construction and commissioning experience over the past 10 years, will ensure that the needs of both LCRA and the local community are met through this project."
LCRA and Fluor will host open houses on May 3 and May 10 for the public to learn more about the Ferguson Replacement Project. The May 3 open house will be from 5 to 8 p.m. in Horseshoe Bay at the Quail Point Community Center, 107 Twilight Lane. The May 10 open house will be from 5 to 8 p.m. in Marble Falls at the Lakeside Pavilion, 307 Buena Vista Drive.
LCRA sends periodic email updates on Ferguson Replacement Project construction activities to people who have signed up to receive the free electronic newsletter. To subscribe to the updates or to learn more about the project, go to www.lcra.org/fergusonreplacement.