Houston Industries’ Wholesale Energy Group (HI) continued toentrench itself into the western energy market by agreeing with thecity of Casa Grande, AZ, to build a new 500 MW natural gas-firedpower plant. The plant will cost $263 million, and upon completionHI will arrange for the supply of gas and sell the electricityproduced from the plant.

The project, named Desert Basin Generating, will providecompetitively priced electricity to wholesale markets and to largeend-users in Arizona and other parts of the western U.S. Thefacility will be located 50 miles southeast of Phoenix. It alsowill supply steam to Abbott Laboratories, a neighboringmanufacturing facility. HI said that gas will be transported by ElPaso Natural Gas, which is just three miles away from the plant.The company expects to use 80-90,000 MMBtu/d to power the facility.”This project will enhance our successful California generation andtrading operations and reinforce our leading position in thisrapidly evolving industry,” said Joe Bob Perkins, president andchief operating officer of HI Wholesale Energy Group.

In the past year, HI has aggressively pursued the Californiamarket. HI Power Generation, which has since become HI WholesaleEnergy Group, bought five generation plants from SouthernCalifornia Edison (SCE), a utility divesting assets in accordancewith the state’s restructuring plan. These plants account for 3,800MW of operational electricity in California, according to an HIspokeswoman.

Overall, HI Wholesale Energy owns 17,800 MW of electricgeneration capacity, 8,200 miles of gas pipeline, and 4,000 milesof gathering lines. It trades 4 Bcf/d of gas and produces 80million MW-hours of electricity annually.

John Norris

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