Port Corpus Christi passed an important hurdle Wednesday in its quest to move ahead with the huge Las Brisas electric generating plant that Chase Energy plans to build at the Texas port.
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality approved the air permit for the proposed $3.2 billion petroleum coke-fired plant at a hearing in Austin, Texas, Wednesday morning.
The next step in the project’s development is an application to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for a Green House gas permit. Construction on the Las Brisas plant could start as early as this fall if that permit is approved, and work will take three to four years for completion.
The plant is scheduled to be fully operational by 2014.
“We are cautiously optimistic about the realization of the project. We look forward to the next step down the road towards the realization of the Las Brisas project,” said John LaRue, executive director of the Port of Corpus Christi.
The Las Brisas Energy Center project is a 1,320-megawatt electric-generating facility on the north side of Port Corpus Christi’s Inner Harbor. If approved, it will be the largest industrial project ever built in Corpus Christi.
Chase Energy would build the plant on land leased from the port. It would require expanding the existing bulk terminal to handle the estimated 4 million tons of year that would be shipped in to fuel the plant. The bulk terminal is currently in two parts. The part that would be used by the Las Brisas plant was built in the mid-50s and has an unloading rate of 500 tons per hour.
The Las Brisas plant would be a second big win for the port, which is already the site of construction of an oil-and-gas pipe manufacturing plant by the Tianjin Pipe Co. on land adjacent to the port, The plant, which LaRue said is the largest Chinese industrial investment in the U.S., will export about 250,000 tons of pipe a year to Venezuela, Niger and other oil-and-gas producing locations when it is completed in two years time.