COLUMBUS — Electrical needs of the fast-growing Southeast were so great in the summer of 1998 that there was a threat of brownouts due to capacity shortages during periods of peak demand and electrical power prices skyrocketed on the wholesale level.
By June of this year, two new electrical generating plants under construction by Enron Capital and Trade Resources Corp. (ECT), a subsidiary of Enron Corp., are expected to go on line to help meet heavy demands for electricity during in the summer months.
Enron is constructing a $100-million, 475-megawatt electrical generation facility, Caledonia Power, 15 miles northeast of Columbus in Lowndes County. Enron is also constructing a $70-million, 390-megawatt electrical generation facility, New Albany Power, five miles northeast of New Albany in Union County.
Caledonia Power will be a simple cycle power facility using natural gas to generate electricity. It will operate primarily during peak demand periods in the summer, and power will be sold to the wholesale electricity market, said Shelly Mansfield, manager of public relations for Enron.
About 200 people are currently employed building Caledonia Power, which will create 10 permanent jobs.
“As demand for electricity in the U.S. increases and deregulation of the energy industry continues, merchant power plants such as the Caledonia facility will help alleviate power shortages and outages,” Mansfield said. “In addition, the facility will enhance the overall reliability of the electric power transmission system throughout northeast Mississippi during peak season.”
Mansfield said the site near Columbus was selected because it has good access to natural gas pipelines, and is located close to a Tennessee Valley Authority substation and high voltage lines that facilitate transmission of electricity out of the facility. A good market for electricity was a third factor in the plant facility siting.
“You are looking at an area of country where there is a need for more electrical power capacity,” Mansfield said. “Last summer you may have realized there was a threat of brownouts and power prices skyrocketed on the wholesale level when we went into a shortage situation. This facility, being a peaking system, will provide support to the electrical system in periods of peak demand when everyone is running their air conditioning and it is very hot outside.”
Charleigh Ford, executive director, Columbus Lowndes Economic Development Association (CLEDA), said the Caledonia Power plant is a big plus for the economy of the area. He said Enron has not received much in the way of local incentives, which will improve the economic impact of the project.
“They have been very methodical in the process, and were careful to construct the facility in a farming area,” Ford said. “It is very environmentally friendly, and relatively quiet. And when you’ve got added capacity in the system that can generate more electricity during peak demand, it precludes you from having to shut things down which can, in many cases, be real tough on a company that has a process that doesn’t need to be shut down. Plus when you shut down the company, you’re not making any money.”
New Albany Power is also a simple cycle power facility using natural gas to generate electricity. The project has created about 200 construction jobs, and will create 10 permanent jobs in New Albany.
The Caledonia Power and New Albany Power projects represent two of the largest new facility investments in Mississippi for 1999.
Enron has plans for a third power plant, Fulton Power, in Fulton, which is in Itawamba County. The $45-million, 260-megawatt facility is also designed to operate primarily during peak demand periods of the summer months.
The proposed facility would create approximately 100 construction jobs and 10 permanent operations jobs in Fulton.
Enron has received permits on the project from federal and state regulatory authorities including the Mississippi Public Service Commission and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality. A date for starting construction has not yet been set.