Denton City Council members on Tuesday adopted an ordinance approving the sale of the Gibbons Creek Steam Electric Station.
But it wasn’t unanimous. Both at-large members, Paul Meltzer and Deb Armintor, voted against it. Mayor Gerard Hudspeth and council members Birdia Johnson, Connie Baker, Jesse Davis and John Ryan voted for it.
“I don’t think we should sell it not knowing the use it’s going to be made of,” Armintor said. “Understanding … what the consensus is, I would like to make a friendly amendment that we make a request that TMPA provide a report to the public on remediation efforts at least once a year. The land should be used for a regional park.”
On Monday, Denton’s Public Utilities Board recommended approval of the ordinance of the asset purchase agreement between the Texas Municipal Power Agency and the prospective buyer, Gibbons Creek Environmental Redevelopment Group. According to a city staff report distributed on Jan. 15, several options are being considered for redeveloping the 6,200-acre site that includes a mothballed coal-fired plant part-owned by Denton.
“I’d just like to say … there’s no scenario contemplating the coal plant is restarted,” Meltzer said.
He voted against adopting the ordinance because he wanted TMPA to have authority over the use of the land.
“It’s a sale of the power plant property and associated equipment,” said Terry Naulty, assistant general manager of Denton Municipal Electric. “The land use for the parcels that will be eventually divided will restrict future use. Economically, it is a very good deal for the ratepayers for Denton and other member cities.”
The Public Utilities Board decision came almost three weeks after a meeting in which some council members insisted on knowing how Gibbons Creek Environmental Redevelopment Group planned to use the property after the coal-fired plant is decommissioned.
“While these possibilities are still in negotiations and cannot be discussed in detail, we can assure you that the outcome to the communities will be very positive,” according to city documents. “The existing power plant will be demolished, and potential redevelopment uses for the property include solar, battery, and energy storage options which [use] the existing transmission system, maximization of the reservoir’s potential, reuse of the vast rail system, and other industrial uses.”
The Texas Municipal Power Agency this month approved an asset purchase agreement in the sale of the coal plant owned by agency member cities Denton, Garland, Bryan and Greenville. Before the sale is complete, all member cities must approve the agreement.
“It is planned that the Gibbons Creek Reservoir RV Park and campground will continue to operate,” according to a staff report. “By matching the right potential buyers to the right assets, GCERG plans to achieve the greatest possible outcome for the property and the surrounding communities. The redevelopment of the property is expected to be completed within 36 months.”
In September, TMPA announced its intent to sell much of the Gibbons Creek Steam Electric Station site to Gibbons Creek Environmental Redevelopment Group, a subsidiary of Charah Solutions. The buyer would assume control of the offline power plant, cooling reservoir, associated landfills and ash ponds about 20 miles east of College Station. The sale does not include the mine and transmission system.
TMPA, created in 1975, has for years unsuccessfully negotiated the sale of the plant. The buyer plans to decommission the property in a move that would save Denton about $14 million over five years, according to city documents.
The Denton Record-Chronicle reported in June that officials with Denton and the other member cities thought they had a buyer for the plant. But that deal fell apart.
Four years earlier, Denton Municipal Electric announced it wanted to end its involvement in the coal-fired operation by summer 2018. Denton and the other cities were unable to sell the plant, and they delayed decommissioning for at least two more years.
The plant went online in 1983. The purchase agreement provides that GCERG will make an initial payment of more than $6 million to TMPA, an escrow payment of $28.5 million and a $1.1 million performance bond.