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Second coal-fired plant project canceled in Nevada

Updated Thursday, March 5, 2009 | 4:38 p.m.

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 near Ely.

This is the second power company that has withdrawn its application for a coal-fired power plant in Nevada this year.

NV Energy, Nevada's largest utility, also was applying to the commission for its own coal-fired plant near Ely, but was much earlier in the permitting process when it, too, withdrew its application this year.

The cancellation is due "to current economic conditions and increasing regulatory uncertainties," the company said in a statement.

Instead, LS Power officials say they will focus on the company's efforts on completing the Southwest Intertie Project (SWIP), a planned high-voltage electric transmission line project that will offer efficient access to renewable energy resources.

SWIP is a 500-mile, 500-kilovolt transmission line that will extend from southern Idaho through eastern Nevada to the Las Vegas area. LS Power acquired development rights for the line in 2005. LS Power's affiliate, Great Basin Transmission, LLC, has nearly completed permits and design of the project and could begin construction as early as mid-2009, the company said. The line could help renewable energy projects in the Great Basin to transmit power in the West.

LS Power sent a letter today to the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada announcing it is withdrawing its application for the Ely Energy Center project and "does not intend to refile" until the company receives an air quality permit from the Nevada Environmental Protection Division.

The PUC had scheduled hearings next week, including public comment periods, for the project, said Sean Sever, public information officer for the Public Utilities Commission.

In January, LS Power canceled plans for a similar plant in Waterloo, Iowa, days after its development partner, Dynegy, dissolved its partnership with LS. The companies planned to develop coal plants in Arkansas, Georgia and Michigan, as well as Iowa and Nevada.

At the time, Mark Milburn, director of project development for LS, said his company was "moving forward full speed ahead" with plans for a 1,590-megawatt plant near Ely in northern Nevada.

The plant had completed a lengthy environmental review and was granted final approval by the Bureau of Land Management. Its air quality permit, which would regulate emissions coming from the plant, had not been completed before President Obama came to office.

The White Pine Energy Associates LLC had filed its initial application with the Public Utilities Commission on Feb. 22, 2006 and an amended application on Nov. 3, 2008.

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