The Thomas C. Ferguson Power Plant in Horseshoe Bay is a newer, efficient power plant on Lake LBJ. The natural gas-fired, combined-cycle plant is producing power for the state's electric grid and helping LCRA provide its wholesale electric customers with more competitively priced power. A combined-cycle power plant is one of the most cost-effective and dependable types of power plant. The plant has a generating capacity of about 516 megawatts.
The $500 million project broke ground in April 2012, about 100 yards from the site of the original Ferguson plant. The old 420-MW unit, built in 1974, went offline in September 2013 as part of the decommissioning process before the new Ferguson facility began operating in 2014. The new Ferguson plant produces 30 to 40 percent fewer emissions per unit of power than the unit it replaced. It uses about 35 percent less fuel per megawatt-hour and about one-third of the water used at a typical steam plant per unit of power.
The City of San Marcos owns a small percentage of the plant under a provision of LCRA's wholesale power agreement that allows customers to participate in LCRA's power generation projects.
The LCRA Board of Directors approved the project at its April 2011 meeting, and in August 2011 selected Fluor Corporation to construct the plant. LCRA considered other locations for the new plant. However, building a power plant on a new site would have added $50 million to $70 million to the cost, and would have had a greater overall impact on the environment. It made sense to use the existing Ferguson site because there was room for a new power plant (the site was originally designed to accommodate additional generating units) and fuel, water and transmission infrastructure was already in place.