Ground broken on long-awaited power plant near Cushing

By Donna McCollum - email
NACOGDOCHES COUNTY, TX (KTRE) - Nacogdoches county's newest corporate neighbor is a subsidiary of Southern Company, which will own, construct and operate a biomass facility near Cushing. It's the first in East Texas and one Nacogdoches County worked for years to obtain.
"This will be one of the largest biomass plants in the country when it's built at 100 megawatts coming on line in the summer of 2012," spokesperson Steve Higginbottom said.
Southern power is stepping into a deal with a secured customer. Austin Power is committed to purchasing the power for twenty years to serve about 10,000 Austin residents.

"It's in important part of our power mix. We have some substantial renewable goals and this project will make up a large percentage of that," Pat Sweeney, of Austin Energy, said.

 The immediate benefit in East Texas is revenue.

"It will bring approximately 300 jobs in the construction phase for about three years. Then somewhere between 60 and 100 full time jobs once it's completed," NEDCO Chairman Ed Pool said.
"Obviously with the industry market the way it is right now across the country, we're trying to keep our own current employees busy," said Steve Maus, who is the project manager for Fagen Incorporated, contractor of the project.

Southern Power is among the largest wholesale energy providers in the Southeast, meeting the electricity needs of municipalities, electric cooperatives and investor-owned utilities. The company owns and operates more than 7,500 megawatts with facilities in Alabama, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina and has an additional 820 megawatts committed to construction in North Carolina and Texas. Visit the Southern Company Web site at

No matter when the jobs come, Nacogdoches County will always be playing a role in the use of renewable energy.
"And us being the largest this will pave the way for a lot of new projects in the future, I would guess," Ron Fagen said.

"We know what it takes to get one to this point. And it takes a lot of partnership and it's clear you folks have done that," Southern CEO Ronnie Bates said.

©2009 KTRE. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.