Work will most likely start early next year on the construction of a $163.8 million natural gas generation replacement unit in El Paso.
Members of the Public Utility Commission of Texas have now given their unanimous approval to what is officially called the Newman Unit 6, which will belong to El Paso Electric.
The new unit is being designed to replace three older natural gas facilities: Newman Units 1 and 2, as well as the Rio Grande Unit 7.
In a statement, Kelly Tomblin, chief executive officer of El Paso Electric, said the new unit will “use less natural gas, decrease water usage by 600 million gallons per year, and improve system reliability.”
As with the units it will replace, the new unit will provide power to consumers both in metro El Paso as well as southeastern New Mexico.
Although El Paso Electric has maintained that the project, to be built on the northeast side of El Paso, will reduce carbon emissions by 25% in the next four years, it has sparked opposition from community activists charging that it will emit carbon dioxide greenhouse gases.
Earlier this month, members of the El Paso City Council went on record stating their opposition to the project.
In a statement at the time of that vote, City Attorney Karla Nieman said it was “neither prudent nor necessary” for El Paso Electric to move forward with the project.
According to plans, the new facility will be made up of a 228 megawatt air-cooled gas generation unit and is expected to be operational by 2023.
By Garry Boulard
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