TCEQ responds to public comments on proposed Van Alstyne power plant

admin2017 News

By Ann Smajstrla

Herald Democrat

VAN ALSTYNE —The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has addressed recent comments from members of the public regarding a power plant proposed by Navasota Energy that would be located near Van Alstyne. This is a step in the process toward the company receiving an air permit for the plant.

The Van Alstyne Energy Center would be a 543-megawatt, simple-cycle gas-fired electric-generating facility that would support peak energy demands in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’ North Zone, according to the project website. The facility, which would open in spring 2017, would be a “peak-energy plant;” meaning that it would operate only during peak electric demand periods.

The TCEQ held a public meeting in January in which residents could submit their comments and ask questions about the project.

In a document released Monday by the TCEQ, the Commission responds to common questions that the TCEQ received during the public comment period. The document concludes that, after being reviewed by the TCEQ, the proposed plant is “in compliance with all applicable federal and state regulatory requirements.”

In an email, Navasota Energy President Dan Hudson said he expects the plant to receive an air permit.

“Navasota looks forward to receiving the air quality permit and building the Van Alstyne Energy Center which will provide energy and jobs for Texans while protecting public health and the environment,” Hudson said.

The document also states that TCEQ made three changes to Navasota Energy’s draft permit in response to the public comments. First, the TCEQ changed a condition in the draft to only allow for 2,500 hours of operation per rolling 12-month period for each turbine regardless of how many are installed.

The TCEQ also added another condition that would require the plant to sample for particulate matter emissions from the turbines. The last change mandates that Navasota Energy maintain a copy of the permit and records of specific information and data.

As a result of these changes to the draft permit, the time period for members of the public to request a contested case hearing has been extended to May 13, said TCEQ Spokeswoman Andrea Morrow.

Next in the application process, a TCEQ committee will investigate all requests for a contested case hearing and determine whether those who made requests were affected parties, Morrow said. The committee may choose to hold a contested case hearing, which would lengthen the process.

Grayson County officials, like the Commissioners, have been in favor of the plant in part because of the tax money it would generate for the Van Alstyne Independent School District. A group of citizens in the affected areas of Grayson and Collin counties, however, have made their opposition to the plant known.

Mike Mitchell, a member of the Citizens Acting Against Power Plant group, said that CAAPP members will move forward with efforts to secure a contested case hearing. Fellow CAAPP organizer Brent Kennedy agreed, and said the group will continue to organize and to “let concerned citizens know what’s going on.”

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