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 perform all the duties of a utility system, except authorization to sell power to any entity other than its members and acquire fuel by condemnation. The Article passed, and the Texas Municipal Power Agency (TMPA) was created.
This Agency’s purpose was, and is, to provide an economic power supply to the member cities for resale to their customers. This action allows customers to enjoy a high generation’s advantages that would not be possible if their cities had continued to operate independently.
Next, the Cities approved the 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. By the morning of June 14, 1984, Gibbons Creek was producing at full design capacity.
Once TMPA reached the milestone of full capacity, the 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
In November 1994 TMPA test burned 100% Powder River Basin coal. Several significant modifications to the plant were made in anticipation
of the switch to PRB coal. It was a great success. Among the improvements were the rail loop expansion, a rotary car dumper, coal reclaim modifications, and fire protection systems. In April 1996, TMPA began to run fully on PRB, and the lignite mine was closed and, TMPA acquired the reclamation responsibility for the mine. This higher quality fuel was more efficient and permitted TMPA to reduce overhead further.
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 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 their customers’ well-being, 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.