HOUSTON Feb 4 Luminant, the largest owner of
power plants in Texas, said it will restart three coal-fired
plants ahead of schedule as rising natural gas prices boost the
cost of wholesale power which makes coal units more economical
Luminant notified the state grid operator that the
750-megawatt Martin Lake 3 coal unit and the 565-MW Monticello 1
coal unit will be available beginning Feb. 15, followed by the
565-MW Monticello 2 unit on March 1.
"It shows that in a commodity market - like ERCOT is - as a
generator you need to be nimble and flexible so you can be able
to bring these units up in a matter of days," Luminant spokesman
Brad Watson said on Tuesday.
Luminant suspended operation of the Monticello units after
the peak summer season last year and the Martin Lake unit in
mid-December, citing low wholesale power prices.
The units were expected to remain shut until late May,
restarting just ahead of the summer season when electric demand
in Texas soars to keep air conditioners running, according to
earlier filings with the Electric Reliability Council of Texas
North Texas power prices averaged nearly $44 per megawatt
hour in January, up 51 percent from the January 2013 average and
22 percent above the region's five-year average, according to
A series of winter storms across much of the country has
increased the cost of natural gas and coal.
The relative price difference between Appalachian coal and
Henry Hub gas on the futures market has widened to more than $3
per million British thermal units for the first time since
February 2010, according to Reuters data, meaning more utilities
may run their coal units more if gas prices stay high.
Dallas-based Luminant is a unit of Energy Future Holdings,
which is owned by a group of private equity firms led by
Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.