Image Credits : WartisllaFrom left to right: Andreas Bucheler, Senior Manager, Strategic Initiatives, Wärtsilä; Risto Paldanius, Vice President, Americas, Wärtsilä; Randa Stephenson, LCRA Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of Wholesale Power; Tim Timmerman, Chair of the LCRA Board of Directors; Andrew Valencia, Senior Vice President of Generation at LCRA; and Phil Wilson, LCRA General Manager. © LCRA
2 minutes read

Wärtsilä engines again the choice for major Texas utility power plant project

Technology group Wärtsilä has again been awarded a major contract by the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA), a river authority based in Austin, Texas, that provides wholesale power to the Texas power grid. Following an order by LCRA for ten Wärtsilä engines generating an output of approximately 190 MW in 2022, the new order for a further ten Wärtsilä 50SG engines will double the earlier output. The order was booked by Wärtsilä in March 2024.

The new Timmerman Power Plant, located near Maxwell, Texas, will supply additional capacity needed to support LCRA’s customers and support the Texas power grid and ERCOT, the Texas electrical grid operator. ERCOT supplies power to more than 26 million customers, or about 90 percent of the state’s electric load. The additional capacity will help alleviate supply challenges created by load growth and the retirement of ageing plants in Texas. Furthermore, the fast-starting Wärtsilä engines will provide dispatchable power to balance the increasing amount of intermittent renewables introduced into the system. There is a very high penetration of renewables installed and growing rapidly in ERCOT.

“We appreciate Wärtsilä’s track record in supplying efficient and reliable engines,” said Randa Stephenson, LCRA executive vice president and chief operating officer of Wholesale Power. “The flexibility of the Wärtsilä engines is particularly important in providing the rapid ramp-up of power needed for our new peaker plant, which will be called upon to quickly come online when other generation is not available to meet the power demand in our growing state.”

LCRA’s new plant will operate on natural gas and will have two units, each powered by 10 Wärtsilä’ engines. The first unit is expected to come online in 2025, with the second unit scheduled to be completed in 2026. Together, the units will be able to provide power for about 100,000 homes during periods of peak demand.

The Wärtsilä 50SG engine consumes little to no water, which is an important feature in Texas, an area often affected by drought.

“We are extremely pleased to have been awarded this valuable follow-up order. It emphasises the added value that our engine technology offers as the energy sector transitions to greater efficiency and increased sustainability. We appreciate LCRA for selecting flexible solutions as Texas experiences increased power demand that cannot be adequately served by an ageing fleet of inflexible power plants,” said Risto Paldanius, Vice President, Americas at Wärtsilä Energy.

Wärtsilä has installed over 70 engine power plants, as well as 29 energy storage facilities in the U.S. since 1981. These installations have a total combined capacity of more than 6.9 GW.

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