Texas Public Utility Commission OKs El Paso Electric power plant project over opposition

A portion of the Newman Generating Station located in a mostly undeveloped area of Northeast El Paso at Stan Roberts Sr. Drive and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard is shown. El Paso Electric wants to spend $163.8 million to add a new generator to the plant.

The Texas Public Utility Commission on Friday unanimously approved El Paso Electric’s plan to add a new, multimillion-dollar, natural gas-fired generating unit to the Newman power plant in far Northeast El Paso despite opposition from the city of El Paso and area environmentalists.

The three commissioners made their decision in less than a minute with no comments reported the El Paso Times.

The utility plans to spend $163.8 million to add the new generator to its largest power plant. It’s needed to retire three old, inefficient power generators and meet future electric demand, utility officials have said in filings with the PUC.

El Paso Electric CEO Kelly Tomblin said she’s pleased and not surprised by the PUC decision.

“We’ve gone through a lengthy (review) process and these are people that understand the power systems,” she said

The city issued a statement late Friday afternoon saying the city “has continuously opposed Newman 6, believing delaying retirement of older (generating) units and increasing purchased power agreements to be the more prudent option during this time of uncertainty.” City officials will review the PUC order “before deciding what, if any, next steps it should take.”

The fact the city continues to oppose the project could mean that Tomblin and other company officials might not have done a thorough job explaining to the mayor and the City Council how evident it is that the 60-year-old power generators need to be replaced, said Tomblin, who became CEO on Sept. 1. She met with the mayor and several council members about the project, Tomblin said.

Source: El Paso Times

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