Gibbons Creek Steam Electric Station

The coal-fired power plant at Gibbons Creek Steam Electric Station is owned by the Texas Municipal Power Agency, created by the cities of Denton, Garland, Bryan and Greenville to produce electricity. The plant is about 20 miles east of College Station.

After the Public Utilities Board recommended adopting an ordinance on the sale of the Gibbons Creek Stream Electric Station, Denton City Council members on Tuesday are scheduled to consider approving it.

The PUB decision comes almost three weeks after some council members during a meeting insisted on knowing how the prospective buyer — Gibbons Creek Environmental Redevelopment Group — plans to use the property after it is decommissioned. According to a city staff report distributed Jan. 15, several options are being considered for redeveloping the 6,200-acre site located about 20 miles east of College Station.

“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,” the report said. “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 members 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 the 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 to Gibbons Creek Environmental Redevelopment Group, a subsidiary of Charah Solutions. That group will assume control of the offline power plant, cooling reservoir, associated landfills and ash ponds. 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.

Council members are expected to vote on the ordinance on the purchase agreement following their 2 p.m. work session.

Also on Tuesday, among other items, officials are expected to discuss the city’s COVID-19 response — something they’ve done 21 times since March 17. Matt Richardson, director of Denton County Public Health, will provide “a brief situational update,” and staff members will offer details on federal assistance and other programs.

Denton remains under a disaster declaration — and an order through March 31 that requires businesses to maintain health and safety plans and post signs at entrances. It “incorporates the face covering and social distancing requirements of gubernatorial order GA-29. The policy may include the implementation of other mitigating measures designed to control and reduce the transmissions of COVID-19 such as temperature checks or health screenings.”

Effectively, the order is an extension of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott’s order, which requires residents to wear face coverings “in public spaces in counties with 20 or more positive COVID-19 cases, with few exceptions.”

PAUL BRYANT can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @paulbryant_DRC.

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