Texas Utility Plans to Add New Gas-Fired Generation

A Texas utility that expects to bring another 228 MW of natural gas-fired power generation online in December also plans to begin operating an additional four gas-fired units over the next several years, according to regulatory filings.

El Paso Electric (EPE), which provides energy to areas in west Texas and southern New Mexico, plans to diversity its generation fleet with solar power and energy storage, and requested proposals for renewable energy projects in an Oct. 6 regulatory filing. That filing comes after EPE in an earlier document said it could add more than 270 MW of gas-fired generation to its fleet by 2040.

EPE, which is set to begin operating the new 228-MW Unit 6 at the Newman Generating Station in El Paso by the end of this year, has said it plans to bring 88 MW of gas-fired generation online in 2032. It also plans to add a 52-MW gas-fired unit in 2034, an 80-MW unit in 2038, and a 54-MW combustion turbine in 2040. The utility wants to maintain baseload generation as it retires older units, including three at the Newman facility that are scheduled to be shuttered in the next few years, including the 82-MW Newman Unit 1 by year-end.

The utility said its plan to add new gas-fired plants over the next decade-plus could be changed based on the electricity needs of its customers, as well as “updated generation technology costs.” The utility earlier said it plans for at least 80% of its generation to be carbon-free by 2035, with a goal of 100% carbon-free power by 2050.

EPE last year received about 45% of its zero-carbon power from the Palo Verde nuclear plant in Arizona; the utility owns 633 MW across three units at Palo Verde. The utility had just less than 1,300 MW of gas-fired generation capacity in 2022.

About 3% of the utility’s power came from solar resources last year, and EPE’s renewable energy generation will increase this year thanks to the start of commercial operation of a new 120-MW solar farm this summer near Chaparral, New Mexico. That installation also includes 50 MW of battery energy storage.

Darrell Proctor is a senior associate editor for POWER (@POWERmagazine).

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