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Colorado Bend Energy Center

WSP USA provided numerous design services for the Colorado Bend Energy Center in Wharton, Texas.


The Colorado Bend Energy Center is a 550-megawatt power plant developed at a time when a potential seasonal shortfall of power was forecast for the Houston, Texas area. Demand for electricity was increasing while utilities were decommissioning some of their older, less efficient plants. WSP provided the client, Navasota Energy Partners LP, with fast-track design, including civil, structural, and mechanical and electrical engineering, instrumentation design and equipment procurement.

The natural gas-fired, combined cycle plant was put into commercial operation 225-megawatt capacity, and was later expanded to 550-megawatt capacity. The plant operates during periods of peak demand, and innovative design solutions were required to meet the rapid start-up requirement. It was designed with a stack damper, which keeps the heat recovery steam generator in a warm standby condition when off line.

The plant includes a full steam turbine bypass to allow the combustion turbine generator and heat recovery steam generator to come up to full load independently of the steam turbine generator. During early commercial operation, the Colorado Bend Energy Center ran substantially more than originally planned to meet the demand for electricity, producing power 12 to 16 hours a day, seven days a week.