PONCA CITY — Oklahoma Municipal Power Authority plans to begin construction next year on the state's first natural-gas fired power plant since 2011 on property north of Ponca City.
Wind farms have provided most of the added electricity generation capacity in Oklahoma in the last several years, but the Charles D. Lamb Energy Center will be a 103-megawatt plant powered by a simple-cycle turbine using natural gas.
The authority plans to start construction on the $115 million plant by January, with completion expected by spring 2015. It issued almost $133 million in revenue bonds in January to pay for the plant and other capital projects.
“We're always looking out 15 years to see if we have adequate power resources,” General Manager Cindy Holman said Tuesday at a public meeting in Ponca City. “We need to have additional resources starting in 2015, and so that's the purpose of our construction of the plant north of Ponca City.”
The authority generates electricity at 12 plants for 39 cities, including Edmond, Duncan and Altus. It has a gas-fired power plant in Ponca City that will continue operations.
“That site is almost locked in by a residential-type area,” said David Osborn, the authority's assistant general manager. “With our load growth, we really needed a larger unit in an area we could eventually over time expand and grow into.”
The new plant will be used only in peak demand times, usually during the daytime in summer when customers use a lot of electricity for air conditioning and other uses. Officials said it will be able to be turned on and ready to generate power in about 25 minutes.
Lester Brockmann, who lives next to the 160-acre power plant site, said he's been watching engineers prepare the site from his front porch for the past several months. He came to Tuesday's meeting with questions about how loud the plant would be.
“I don't want it to keep me awake at night,” he said. “That (State) Highway 11 is pretty noisy with trucks and things that are hauling gravel out west to the oil well sites, but they go day and night and they don't keep me awake; I got used to it.”
Peter Kelly, project director with Chicago-based Sargent & Lundy LLC, said the Siemens gas turbine will be enclosed in noise insulation to meet federal regulations. Natural gas also emits fewer pollutants than coal plants.
“These units put out very low NOX (nitrogen oxide) emissions,” Kelly said. “There's continuous monitoring of the emissions to make sure they stay within regulatory limits. Within those limits, with a simple-cycle (turbine) such as this, you can't get much cleaner.”
The Charles Lamb Energy Center will connect to a nearby Oklahoma Gas and Electric Co. 345-kilovolt line for transmission to the regional power grid. The authority is in discussions with several suppliers for natural gas, Osborn said. Water for the plant will come from Ponca City.
The plant is named for Lamb, a longtime chairman of the authority's board of directors and mayor of Edmond.