LEPA plant project moves forward

MORGAN CITY — If everything goes according to schedule, bonds for the new Louisiana Energy and Power Authority power plant will be sold Sept. 23, and groundbreaking for construction should begin in April 2014, former Morgan City mayor and current LEPA board member Tim Matte said.

Tuesday, the LEPA board of directors approved the first supplemental bond resolution, the same document each of the communities involved in the project was asked to approve, Matte said.

The site for the new plant will be on Youngs Road in Morgan City, on the west side of the horse arena, he said.

According to Matte, the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality operating permit is expected to be received Sept. 18.

All communities involved in the project have to approve technical changes to the LEPA power sales contract before bonds can be issued. The changes in the document are minor, according to Matte.

The other communities involved in the project are Plaquemine, Rayne, Vidalia, Houma and Jonesville.

After that, the offering statement, scheduled to be released Sept. 12, will be given to the prospective bondholders, he said.

As of Aug. 30, on the high end, the face value of the bonds needed to complete the project was more than $131 million, Matte said. That amount includes the construction cost, reserve and contingency funds as well as interest and other costs. The estimate of just the plant construction costs, pipeline costs and engineering and development costs associated with construction, is slightly more than $113 million, Matte said.

Morgan City will have a public hearing at its Sept. 24 council meeting for an ordinance to approve the final form of the contract between the city and LEPA.

Once LEPA gets the permit from the Department of Environmental Quality, the bond sale should take place the week of Sept. 23, Matte said.

On Oct. 8, assuming the bonds have been sold, contracts will be awarded to vendors that will provide the combustion turbine generator, the steam turbine generator, and the heat recovery steam generator for the new LEPA plant. Those items constitute roughly $30 million of the construction project, he said.

The new plant will run on natural gas and have a combined-cycle combustion turbine generator with “black start capability,” meaning it does not need electricity to start, Matte said.

Workers will tap into major pipelines that run under the Intracoastal Waterway to Avoca Island in order to deliver high pressure natural gas to the plant, Matte said.

The engineering and procurement contract for the project is projected to be awarded probably in January 2014, Matte said. The start of commercial operations at the plant is projected to begin in October 2015.

Morgan City will have a 10-megawatt share of the 64-megawatt plant. The city’s debt associated with the project will be about $20 million, Matte said.

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