In 1975 the Cities of Bryan, Denton, Garland, and Greenville created and submitted
Article 1435a to the Texas Legislature to request the formation of a "Joint Powers
Agency." This agency would be able to perform all the duties of a utility system,
except authorization to sell power to any plant other than its members and acquire
fuel by condemnation. The Article passed, and the Texas Municipal Power Agency (TMPA)
The purpose of this Agency was, and is, to provide an economical power supply to
the member cities for resale to their customers. This action allows customers to
enjoy the advantages of high generation that would not be possible if their cities
had continued to operate independently.
Next, the Cities approved construction of the mine, Bryan Lignite No.1. By 1983
the plant had changed names to Gibbons Creek Steam Electric Station and it was ready
for commercial operation.
The initial year of the plant's life focused on getting generation up to capacity.
The plant was designed for a capacity of 405 net Megawatts hours. The unit came
online in October, and by December was up to 215 NMW. June 14, 1984 Gibbons Creek
was producing at full design capacity.
Once TMPA reached the milestone of full capacity, focus changed to maintaining sustained,
reliable operations. This effort was successful and TMPA began to have longer and
longer runs online, with consistently increasing net generation. In 1987 TMPA, in
an attempt to stay progressive in an ever-changing industry, began test burns of
Powder River Basin (PRB) coal, which is cleaner and produces less sulfur and ash
than lignite coal. TMPA completed an initial test burn of PRB with different blends
of lignite. Several significant modifications to the plant were made in anticipation
of the switch to PRB coal.
In November 1994 TMPA test burned 100% Powder River Basin coal. It was a great success.
Among other improvements were the rail loop expansion, an addition of a rotary car
dumper, modifications of coal reclaim and fire protection systems. In April 1996
TMPA began to run fully on PRB and the lignite mine was closed. As appropriate,
TMPA acquired the reclamation responsibility for the mine. This higher quality fuel
was more efficient and permitted TMPA to further reduce overhead.
In 1995 Texas began deregulation and opened the wholesale power market for competition.
The Legislature expanded the deregulatory process in 1999 with legislation to deregulate
retail electricity markets for customers. Power customers were no longer forced
to purchase from a sole provider.
In 2000 the TMPA Board acted quickly to respond to a ruling by the Texas
Natural Resource Conservation Commission. The mandate was that plants must lower
emissions of Nitrogen Oxide (NOx). Based on years of experience in the industry
and a concern for the well-being of their customers, TMPA sought expertise from
an outside source who could aid in strategically planning this important task. Burns
& McDonnell Engineers of Kansas City, Missouri, consulted with TMPA and within
two years, emissions were down 60% and before the scheduled deadline. Since then,
TMPA has been recognized as a leader in NOx reduction in the power industry.
In retrospect, it was the collaboration and trust displayed by far-sighted leaders
that have made it possible for the Texas Municipal Power Agency to hold a respected
and competitive position in the utility industry today, with even greater promise
for the future.