Mt. Enterprise, TEXAS – Tenaska Gateway Generating Station’s 28 employees today were recognized for 10 years of safe and reliable electric generation in Rusk County at a luncheon held at the natural gas- fueled electric generating plant near Mt. Enterprise. In recognition of the milestone, the plant presented $1,500 to support the Henderson Food Bank.
Approximately 100 elected officials, business and community leaders, local contractors and vendors joined employees and their families at the celebration held to recognize the employees and thank the community for welcoming the company as a business neighbor.
Jerry Crouse, Vice Chairman and CEO; Mike Lebens, President of Engineering & Operations; Russ Anderson, formerly Plant Manager of Tenaska Gateway and now Director of Operations; and Steve Pearson, Gateway Plant Manager, were among the Tenaska representatives participating in the program.
“Ten years have gone by quickly, and we are pleased to be a Rusk County business,” Lebens said. “We have our plant employees to thank for their daily commitment to safe operation and providing reliable electricity to our customer and the region. Through it all, they don’t lose sight of the meaning of being a good citizen and giving to the community that welcomed us.”
“We tip our hats to the foresight and dedication that Rusk County leaders have had in maintaining a business-friendly environment that has enabled us to celebrate ten years of successful business and continued employment in Rusk County,” Crouse said.
Anderson, who managed the plant when it began commercial operation in 2001, was master of ceremonies at the event. He called upon Crouse and Pearson to present the $1,500 donation to the Henderson Food Bank.
Guests at the event were invited to bring non-perishable items to the open house to contribute to the Food Bank.
“We have truly appreciated our partnership with Rusk County over the years. In recognition of our anniversary, we wanted to show that gratitude with a community gift,” Pearson said. “Demand for Henderson Food Bank services has steadily increased over the last three years, and economic and drought conditions aren’t helping. This gift can make a difference in many people’s lives at a time when they need it most.”
Other speakers at the luncheon included the Honorable Joel Hale, Rusk County Judge, and Sue Henderson, Executive Director of the Henderson Economic Development Corporation (HEDCO).
Hale worked for the Rusk County School District for 34 years prior to his service as County Judge.
“Our schools are better because of revenues generated by the Tenaska Gateway Generating Station,” Hale said. “I have only one question. Is there any chance Tenaska would build another plant just like this one right here in Rusk County?”
Henderson was executive secretary of the Henderson Chamber of Commerce ten years ago when Rusk County was chosen as the site of the plant.
“As an economic development official, the Tenaska Gateway and Rusk County relationship is exactly what I want to see – value, not just in terms of added jobs or added tax revenue, but in community investments,” Henderson said. “Tenaska is exactly the kind of business that supports our community and the kind of business we want to support in turn.”
The plant differs from most other combined-cycle generating stations because it is capable of delivering power to two grids: the Southwest Power Pool where the plant is located, and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) covering most of the rest of Texas. This increased flexibility allows the plant to meet market needs.
At the celebration, employees were recognized for receiving three major awards from the National Safety Council for 2010. The plant’s employees have achieved 10 years of plant operation with only one work-related injury or illness resulting in time away from work. During a cold blast last February, the plant continued producing power while 8,000 megawatts in Texas electric system experienced rolling blackouts. A number of other plants were having trouble. Crouse said this dependability was largely due to the commitment, professionalism and safe operating measures of the employees at Tenaska Gateway.
The 844-megawatt plant produces enough to power 844,000 homes. Tenaska Gateway Generating Station produces electricity for sale to Shell Energy North America, which in turn markets the power.
The plant is one of the largest taxpayers in Rusk County, contributing approximately $21.2 million in property taxes to Rusk County and the Henderson Independent School District since it began commercial operation in 2001. Tenaska and Shell Energy together have also awarded a total of $80,000 in scholarships to more than 117 college bound high school seniors in Rusk County over the past 10 years.
In 2010, the plant injected approximately $5.7 million in salaries and payments to local contractors and vendors into the area economy. Last year, approximately 2,700 hours of volunteer service were performed by employees and other annual contributions were made within the community. Over the years, the Gateway facility contributed significantly to the support of the Henderson Civic Center.
Tenaska, an energy company headquartered in Omaha, Neb., formed Tenaska Gateway Partners, LLC, to build, own and operate the Tenaska Gateway Generating Station. Affiliates of Tenaska serve as the managing partner and operator.