On June 20, El Paso Electric introduced its newest generation. Rio Grande 9, El Paso Electric’s newest generation unit at the Rio Grande Generating Station in Sunland Park, New Mexico, is now generating electricity for approximately 40,000 homes.
Rio Grande 9 is a General Electric LMS 100 simple-cycle aeroderivative gas turbine that can generate 88 to 95 megawatts of electricity. The state-of-the-art jet engine technology is highly efficient in its use of natural gas fuel and it uses less than one-third the water per megawatt than conventional steam units. Another benefit is its quick start and rapid load-following capabilities, which allow it to go from 0 to fully generating in less than 10 minutes, with load following up to 50 megawatts per minute. This feature not only assists in increasing grid stability, it also increases EPE’s ability to integrate additional solar energy into its system.
“This new unit is the first in what will be several new generation units EPE is building to meet the needs of our growing communities in West Texas and Southern New Mexico. It is El Paso Electric’s responsibility to plan for this growth and make sure that we have enough power to serve all of our present and future customers,” said Tom Shockley, Chief Executive Officer at El Paso Electric. “This new technology is more efficient, it uses less water and it is so flexible it will allow us to incorporate more solar energy into our generation mix.”
Rio Grande 9 is the first unit to be built at the Rio Grande Generating Station in 40 years. The Rio Grande Generating Station was built in 1929 and over its 84-year history has undergone various expansions and upgrades. Today the power station generates a combined 250 MWs from three units. The new addition increases its generating capacity to 340MWs.