New Power Plant Groundbreaking In Sherman - KTEN.com - No One Gets You Closer

New Power Plant Groundbreaking In Sherman

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SHERMAN, TX -- Construction has begun on a $350 million power plant being built by Panda Power Funds and dozens packed a groundbreaking ceremony to formally kick off the project.

Outgoing Mayor Bill Magers says the plant will generate $1 million just in water bills and taxes in the first year it begins operating, and city leaders hope it will show the area is good for business.

Dallas resident Bob Carter of Panda Power Funds says he was working in the oil business in the 1980s when it went bust and he struck out on his own. "We were looking for a new business to get into," says Carter. "We knew the oil and gas business, gas transportation, and we saw there was a need for power."

Carter says his business became power plants, and at his fourteenth groundbreaking, he says this work always takes patience. "It's five years for this day here," Carter says. "It's not like some guy where you go out and build a house every four months or five months."

Carter now works with his son who says that during a recession, it was hard to find investors, and he traveled far and wide, cobbling together endowments, public pension funds, and even going overseas a few times.

"As I told him all the tough tales, I'm wearing out my shoe leather, no one's really paying attention, there's no money, all those things, he said, 'You know, those are all excuses!'" says Panda Power Funds president Todd Carter.

The plant is scheduled to take another two years to complete. When it's finished, it should have enough electricity to power 750,000 homes.

With solar and wind power still under development, those building the plant on Progress Drive say this is the next best thing. Equivalent to having 200 wind turbines, the plant will include two large gas turbines, like huge airplane engines. Burning natural gas, the plant is set to produce less than 2 parts per million of nitrogen oxide pollution, while using millions of gallons of Lake Texoma water.

"It's a very clean plant," says executive Mario Azar of Siemens Energy, which is building the machinery. "As far as traditional fossil power is concerned, it's actually the cleanest technology available."

The plant will have about 25 permanent employees, and will be built by several hundred workers. Panda Power Funds leaders say having three things -- water, natural gas, and electric transmission lines -- were key to them locating here. They are also building a plant in Temple.