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Major Project Coming to Area?

An overhead shot shows the proposed location of the Van Alstyne Energy Center
An overhead shot shows the proposed location of the Van Alstyne Energy Center
Courtesy of Navasota Energy
Courtesy of Navasota Energy

A major project estimated to cost in the $200 million range could be coming to Van Alstyne. Navasota Energy has announced that it plans to build a new peaking power plant just outside of Van Alstyne proper. Located off of Ballard Road, the plant would be situated on 52.21 acres in Van Alstyne’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. And, if all the tumblers fall into place it could go online as early as the spring of 2017.

Navasota Energy Generation Holdings LLC is an independent power producer out of Magnolia. The plant — known as the Van Alstyne Energy Center — is slated to be a peaking plant, meaning it produces electricity during peak electric demand periods. Operational time is expected to be less than 1,000 hours per year (law mandates no more than 2,500 operational hours per year.)

While the project would not generate city tax revenue for Van Alstyne it would mean more dollars for the city thanks to an Industrial Services Agreement, according to Grayson County Commissioner Jeff Whitmire. This agreement provides that, in lieu of the city annexing the property the plant would be built on, Navasota Energy would agree to pay the city a pre-determined amount. That in addition to the huge boost in tax revenue for the Van Alstyne ISD and Grayson County would mean a big financial impact for the area.

“Typically a city would offer tax abatements [to get a big project in]. In this case, Grayson County will be offering some level of tax abatement,” said Whitmire. “The City of Van Alstyne…because there is going to be an impact to the infrastructure, [Navasota] is going to enter into an agreement to pay ‘X’ number of dollars in lieu of being annexed.

“This will be an outstanding deal for Grayson County, also for the Van Alstyne school district. We anticipate it being a really good deal for the local economy.”

Whitmire stresses that no dollar amounts are finalized nor, in fact, is the project a done deal. Air permits have been applied for and those will take months to get back, according to Navasota Energy President Dan Hudson.

“There are still a lot of things in here that could potentially make the project fall apart, but as long as the permits are approved as anticipated it’s going to happen,” said Whitmire, who stated that the project could be a year away from being an absolute.

“We’ve been through this whole development process in the past; we’ve built plants in Wharton and Odessa, Texas, where we’ve developed, constructed and operated facilities. We think it’s good timing in the market, and we like working with the community leaders and being part of a community,” said Hudson.

The plant is planned to be a 543 megawatt simple cycle gas fired electric generating facility consisting of three 181 megawatt gas-fired turbine power plants which can achieve 100 percent power production in 10 minutes and provide higher power output during high temperature conditions, making the plant ideal for Texas’ hot summers. When completed and up and running, the plant will support peak energy demands in the North zone of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) which operates the electric grid and manages the deregulated market for 75 percent of the state. According to Hudson, the plant would have very low impact; it uses natural gas and GE turbines with low emissions that are “the most efficient on the market today.”

“Since we don’t operate that much and don’t have a lot of water usage [the impact] is fairly minimal,” said Hudson. “Unlike some of the larger plants, we don’t use lots of water. And there won’t be a lot of traffic in the area. But we will be a big property tax base for the school district…and county.”

Hudson added that the plant would be staffed by just four or five workers. According to company literature obtained by the Leader, the project will be a significant employer during the construction phase as it will create 50-75 jobs.

The company also cites 12 “indirect jobs” to support the plant.

Why Van Alstyne?

“You have good electrical transmission, good natural gas service in the area, you’re close to the DFW loop and when we were looking for sites we met with economic development people. Frank Baker [Van Alstyne city manager] seemed like he was really interested in having us as a tenant in his jurisdiction,” explained Hudson.

For more information go to www.navasotaenergy.com.