Ferguson Replacement Project, Texas, United States of America

Thomas C Ferguson Power Plant is a 40 year-old gas-fired power plant in Horseshoe Bay on Lake Lyndon B Johnson (LBJ) in Texas, US. The 420MW facility, built in 1974, is being replaced by a more environment friendly and energy-efficient combined cycle gas turbine (CCGT) plant.

The new 540MW facility, named the Ferguson replacement project, is being developed by the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), a non-profit public utility that provides energy, water and community services to the people of Texas. The City of San Marcos also owns a small percentage of the new power plant.

Groundbreaking for the $500m replacement was held in April 2012 and the project reached substantial completion in August of this year. The new plant is expected to be operational by the end of the year.

New Ferguson plant site details

The new CCGT power plant is constructed approximately 100 yards from the old Ferguson power plant in Llano County. The site was selected because the existing facility was designed to include additional generating units in future and contains infrastructure such as fuel, water and transmission. A new site would have increased the project cost by up to $70m.

Sustainability of the Ferguson replacement plant

The new combined-cycle natural gas-based power plant is one of the most environmentally friendly plants in Texas and will require approximately 35% lesser fuel and produce up to 40% lesser emissions per unit compared to the existing plant. The new plant will also require one third of the water required at a conventional steam plant for generating equivalent amount of power.

The US Environmental Protection Agency issued Ferguson replacement project a greenhouse gas permit in 2011 under the new federal rules that require power plants to use advanced technology to reduce green house gas emissions. It was the first project to be issued such permit.

The new plant’s design has also incorporated fast start and ramping capabilities as well as ultra-quiet plant operation.

Power plant turbine details

Ferguson power plant will use two GE frame 7FA gas turbine-generators with a combined cycle efficiency of more than 59%.

“The new combined-cycle natural gas-based power plant…will require approximately 35% lesser fuel and produce up to 40% lesser emissions per unit.”

The 7FA gas turbine technology offers more than 59% efficiency in combined cycle operations and is capable of ten minutes start-up to 50% turbine load. The turbine is able to generate a fast ramp rate of 40MW a minute and can be turned down to 36% of gas turbine base load.

The turbines are manufactured at GE’s Greenville facility in South Carolina, the generators in Schenectady facility in New York, and the control system is developed at Salem facility in Virginia.

Ferguson plant project development

The project gained approval from LCRA in April 2011 and received air permits from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and the US Environmental Protection Agency in November of the same year.

The decommissioning of the old power plant began with its generating unit going offline in September 2013. Demolition works began at the old plant in May 2014 and full decommissioning is expected in 2015.

Contractors involved

Fluor was awarded the turnkey engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contract for the replacement project in November 2011.

GE is the turbine supplier for the new CCGT plant and also provides installation, commissioning and technical assistance services to Fluor.

ATCO Emissions Management (ATCO) was contracted in October 2012 to design, supply and install the noise abatement system at the new plant.

NCM Demolition and Remediation was awarded by LCRA the contract for decommissioning the old unit. The work includes dismantling of the plant as well as removal of all equipment and materials. The remediation process includes restoration of the site using clean backfill, topsoil and bluebonnets.