Gas plant agreement is signed Pepco will purchase power from facility

August 22, 1991|By David Conn

Prince George's County and Potomac Electric Power Co. officials said yesterday that a contract has been signed that will bring a $200 million power plant to the county and produce as much as $100 million in tax revenues over the 25-year life of the agreement.

The contract was signed with the Panda Energy Corp. of Dallas, which will build a natural gas power plant to sell electricity to Pepco, the Washington area's primary electric utility company. The plant will be at the Brandywine Maryland Industrial Commercial Complex, at the southeastern corner of the county, County Executive Parris N. Glendening said.

Generators not run by utility companies -- called "non-utility generators" and sometimes referred to within the industry as "NUGs" -- have come into prominence since a 1983 Supreme Court decision allowed unregulated companies to sell power to state-regulated utilities.

The Panda facility brings to four the number of contracts Pepco has signed with outside providers of electricity. Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. has no similar firm agreements.

Critics have said that BG&E and many other utilities have refused to buy outside power because it profits more from

building its own plants.

Arthur Slusark, a BG&E spokesman, said that the company is "in favor of cogeneration plants" but has not heard a proposal that would offer lower costs to its consumers, with one exception. In the spring, he said, BG&E signed a letter of intent to buy electricity from a company, which Mr. Slusark declined to name.

The details are being negotiated, he said.

The Panda announcement comes two weeks after Pepco dedicated a $120 million addition to the company's generating FTC facility at Chalk Point in Prince George's.

The Panda facility, which is to be completed by June 1996, will be a cogeneration power plant, which means it will produce steam and electricity for Pepco to use. The plant will be powered with natural gas and steam turbines and will be able to produce 236 megawatts of electricity an hour. One megawatt is enough electricity to light 10,000 100-watt light bulbs.

"The power company [Pepco] and the county are really positioning themselves for the 21st century," Panda Chairman Robert W. Carter said.

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