Panda breaks ground on Sherman power plant

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SHERMAN, TEXAS -- In the words of State Representative Larry Phillips today, "This is huge!"

The Siemen Energy's Executive Vice President also gave quite an analogy. He says the power plant facility is like a Cadillac, the machines are like a BMW engine and Sherman got it all for a Chevy price.

Today's Panda Power Plant groundbreaking has been five years in the making.

"It's Panda day baby! Let's go!" Sherman Mayor Bill Magers said.

Magers calls this the largest single investment in Sherman's history.

It's expected to bring in a million dollars of revenue annually to the city and the economic impact is estimated to be over 1.7 billion dollars for the region over 10 years.

This 758 megawatt power plant is one of a kind. It uses low emission natural gas and steam turbines that can generate power in 10 minutes, able to serve 750,000 homes.

"The state of Texas needs power. We're growing unlike a lot of states in this country, and so what that means is plants like this need to be built. This power will be going south. This power will be used in that fast-growing market of North Texas," Panda Power Funds Senior Partner and President Todd Carter said.

The plant is designed to kick on and provide electricity when wind-powered plants aren't getting enough wind.

"Texas actually has the most wind power in the nation, so Texas is a great home for this kind of technology and needs it," Executive Vice President of Siemens Energy Solutions Americas Mario Azar said.

Carter says Panda was drawn to Sherman by the sense of community and proximity to the metroplex.

Magers reiterated that water was a critical component.

"In the early negotiations, everyone was focused on the property tax portion of it and I was saying, 'wait a minute, water has value to these guys.'" Magers said.

The plant will consume five million gallons of non-treated water each day, becoming Sherman's number one water customer.

Magers says water is the asset that will continue to help move Sherman forward.

"Water is going to be a differentiator for Sherman and all the cities in North Texas. It's a real advantage that we have for business and for selling to other cities," Magers said.

Bechtel is the construction company employing about 700 workers to build the facility.

Panda will employ 25 full time employees to operate the plant.

It should be up and running by June 2014.

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