In mid-November, members of the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission may vote on a project that will see the construction of a new 228-megawatt natural gas-fired generating unit in northeast El Paso.
The New Mexico commission will have a say in the project because, once built, the new unit will provide electricity not only to metro El Paso, but also Las Cruces, serving a combined 436,000 residents.
The project, which belongs to El Paso Electric, has long been in the planning stages, with the company, in an initial press release, saying the facility is needed “in order to meet customer demand, to satisfy its reliability standards, and to replace older generation units that El Paso Electric plans to retire.”
To be called Newman Unit 6, the unit will be built on a 175-acre desert site near Stan Roberts S Avenue Drive, near Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard, some 23 miles north of downtown El Paso.
The facility will be built in what is known as a simple-cycle configuration, and is expected to cost just over $141 million to complete.
The project has sparked the opposition of several environmental and community groups charging both that the need for the new generating unit has not been demonstrated, and that natural gas-fired plants contribute to air pollution.
The proposal must still secure the approval of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, as well as a final project green light from the Public Utility Commission of Texas.
An exact construction schedule for the new generating unit has not been announced, but El Paso Electric earlier stated they would like to see the facility operational by the spring of 2023.
By Garry Boulard
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