White Stallion gets building permit, may use dry-cooling for its water needs

By adriana_acosta

Oct. 6, 2011 at 5:06 a.m.

BAY CITY - White Stallion Energy Center announced Thursday that it plans to use a dry cooling technology for its water needs.

The announcement was made a day after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers awarded the proposed energy plant a permit to build a loading and unloading facility on the Colorado River.

Using this cooling technology will reduce the projected annual water use of White Stallion by 86 percent.

A dry cooling system is a process that uses ambient air, rather than water as the primary cooling agent to condense steam for re-use in the generation process.

"The current drought in Texas has pushed up the cost of surface water, and the record high temperatures have pushed up the cost of electricity," said Randy Bird, White Stallion Energy Center chief operation officer.

These factors made dry cooling feasible, he said.

"We have always been committed to water conservation and throughout the development process have continued to look beyond traditional means to seek a better solution," he said.

Bird said the company was approached by several private entities wanting to sell it water after the Lower Colorado River Authority board delayed the vote in July to sell water to company.

White Stallion submitted an application for a firm water contract in 2008, requesting 25,400 acre-feet per year for 40 years.

An acre-foot of water is enough water to cover an acre in a foot of water, or enough water to provide a family of five with water for a year. It is 325,851 gallons.

Under the LCRA contract, White Stallion agreed to pay the $55 million within one year from the contract date. The money then would be used for improvements at the LCRA's Bay City pumping plant and possibly build a 5,000 acre-foot channel reservoir in the lower basin.

"We went through a lot of pain and agony and efforts to arrange our financing to fit that request," said Bird.

When company officials realized they were not going to be able to go down that road, Bird said they looked at dry cooling.

Dry cooling was the obvious step they would take to alleviate the concerns of the communities who were concerned with the amount of water White Stallion would need, he said.

"If there is groundwater available or wells can be drilled or other wells that can be changed from irrigation use to industrial use, that's one option for another source of water," he added.

The Coastal Plains Groundwater Conservation District is scheduled to meet Friday to discuss a private landowner's request to sell 1,199 acre-feet of water to White Stallion.

The energy center is projected to produce enough electricity to supply 650,000 homes throughout the South Texas region.

Bird said with the Army Corps of Engineers permit, they will be able to build the loading facility, as well as construct the plant outside all the wetlands on the site.

The proposed energy center has already obtained an air permit and is waiting on the waste water permit.



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