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October 26, 2014

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Coal Power Plant Debate

Nevada Power reached a settlement with the Environmental Protection Department on pollution from its Reid-Gardner coal-fired plant, shown in 2007, near Moapa.

Photo by Sam Morris / Las Vegas Sun

Nevada Power reached a settlement with the Environmental Protection Department on pollution from its Reid-Gardner coal-fired plant, shown in 2007, near Moapa.

Nevada is shaping up as the battle ground for a decision on the future of electric generation in the United States. But it’s not nuclear power and Yucca Mountain being debated this time. Instead Nevada is at the center of the debate over coal-fired power plants, which provide about half the nation’s electricity.

Are EPA coal emission standards strict enough?

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Three new plants are proposed for the Silver State, and environmental groups say their effects would be deadly to both the environment and to human health. They also say the tide is turning against coal, as evidenced by the 59 coal plant plans canceled, abandoned, or put on hold last year - despite a resurgence in coal plant proposals earlier this decade. They also point to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s outspoken opposition to new coal plants as an advantage.

But utilities and power plant developers say coal will be necessary to keep neon lights bright and air conditioners whirring in rapidly-growing Las Vegas as well as other parts of the desert Southwest. They say coal is an important part of their plan to provide cheap, reliable power.

Environmentalists, on the other hand, say new demands for power can be met with renewable energy, including Nevada’s rich solar and geothermal resources, and with energy conservation. They also question whether coal will really provide low-cost power, as the price tags for new plants rise and Congress debates potentially costly carbon caps and taxes.

Meanwhile, proposals for the three plants in Nevada march on. Two 1,500 megawatt plants are proposed outside Ely, in White Pine County, and another 750 megawatt plant is proposed near Mesquite in Clark County. The plants all face several regulatory hurdles – including approval by Nevada’s Environmental Protection Division and the federal Bureau of Land Management – before construction on a new generation of coal power can begin.

Together, they could power about 2.8 million average single-family homes and would produce more than 30 million tons per year of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide.

Phoebe Sweet

Archive highlights

No small worry

Fri, Mar 7, 2008

Opponents of the coal-fired power plants proposed for Nevada say one of the public’s biggest concerns should be the tiny particles that will come out of the plants’ smokestacks. The ...

We all need power, but in Mesquite, priority is clean air

Thu, Feb 7, 2008

Hundreds of people are expected to rally tonight at Mesquite City Hall in opposition to construction of a coal-fired power plant in nearby Lincoln County, in the latest showdown over ...

More help urged for ‘green’ energy

Mon, Jan 28, 2008

Almost lost in the public debate over coal-fired power versus renewable energy is how to get both kinds of power from the plants where it’s produced to the cities where ...

Coal plant debate intensifies

Wed, Jan 23, 2008

More than 200 people turned out for a public meeting in Ely this month to alternately laud and condemn the construction of a coal-fired power plant, which was proposed by ...

All stories

Reid Gardner plant discussion turns to how much consumers should pay

Mon, Aug 26, 2013

Shutting down the coal-fired Reid Gardner power plant in Southern Nevada and getting additional power sources could cost an estimated $1 billion, according to the state Bureau of Consumer Affairs.

Tribe files lawsuit over contaminants at Reid-Gardner plant

Thu, Aug 8, 2013

Environmentalists and Indians are asking a federal court to order utility company NV Energy to clean up land and water they say has been contaminated by an aging coal-fired power ...

Tribe, Sierra Club sue NV Energy to force cleanup around Reid Gardner plant

Thu, Aug 8, 2013

The Moapa Band of Paiutes and the Sierra Club contend oil and groundwater contamination at the site exceeds federal standards for toxic pollutants including arsenic, selenium, and manganese.

Don't like the color of the sky? Blame it on what's in your garage

Fri, Jun 7, 2013

Southern Nevada has been winning some air-quality battles, but ozone remains the nemesis. Nevada Assemblywoman Peggy Pierce said in 2001 that Las Vegas should be dubbed "Smog City," not "Sin ...

Environmentalists not backing down in fight against Reid Gardner plant

Fri, Aug 17, 2012

NV Energy has won a round in its battle to keep the coal-burning Reid Gardner power plant open, but environmentalists say the fight is far from over.

Despite Harry Reid's objections, EPA clears coal-fired power plant to operate

Wed, Aug 15, 2012

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has given the green light to NV Energy to continue operations at the coal burning Reid Gardner plant as long as it installs controls to ...

Lawsuit challenges expansion of landfill for power plant

Thu, Nov 18, 2010

The Moapa Band of Paiutes and the Sierra Club filed suit Thursday in hopes of blocking the development of evaporation ponds and the expansion of a landfill that would be ...

Wood: Not the renewable energy some had in mind

Mon, Nov 9, 2009

When people talk about renewable energy, many mean the latest in clean-energy technology, not a fuel that was pioneered by cavemen. But for NV Energy, what’s old is new again. ...

Report: Coal-fired power plants would affect Great Basin National Park

Mon, Jul 27, 2009

Both air quality and visibility would be affected in the Great Basin National Park if one or both of two coal-fired power plants were operated in White Pine County, a ...

Mines seek timeout on a pollution control

Tue, Jun 9, 2009

The Nevada Mining Association is asking the state to postpone ordering the mining industry to install additional mercury emissions control equipment until the federal government reveals its plans for gold ...

Another Nevada coal plant project bites the dust

Fri, Mar 13, 2009

LS Power has announced it is shelving plans to build the controversial White Pine Energy Center near Ely.

Coal plant plan: Alone but unfazed

Tue, Mar 10, 2009

Sithe Global, the last of three companies to seek to build a new coal plant in Nevada, now has the last coal plant proposal standing in the state — for ...

Second coal-fired plant project canceled in Nevada

Thu, Mar 5, 2009

LS Power, the company behind the White Pine Energy Associates LLC coal-fired power plant in northern Nevada, said today it is "indefinitely" postponing construction of the White Pine Energy Station ...

NV Energy officially delays Ely coal plant

Fri, Feb 13, 2009

NV Energy is abandoning its coal-fired power plant in Ely — at least for now, the company announced Feb. 9.

Second thoughts on coal plants are contagious, it seems

Wed, Feb 11, 2009

The announcement may have proved the environmental version of the domino theory — when one coal plant falls, the next isn’t far behind.

Videos

Face to Face: Are Nevada Power and Sierra Pacific doing enough?
Face to Face: Are Nevada Power and Sierra Pacific doing enough?
Why is Nevada Power's parent company determined to build coal-fired power plants in Nevada when ...
Face to Face: Coal-hearted
Face to Face: Coal-hearted
Is coal the best option for affordable energy in Nevada? Jon talks with a prponent ...

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