Sierra Club, with Reid Gardner a goner, targets North Valmy coal plant

Senate Bill 123, which passed the Nevada legislature with broad bipartisan support, has been signed into law by Gov. Brian Sandoval, said the Sierra Club and the Moapa Paiutes in a June 12 joint statement.

The legislation clears the way for NV Energy (NYSE: NVE) to retire the Reid Gardner coal plant by 2017, stop purchasing coal-fired power from the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona, and develop new renewable energy.

“We thank Governor Sandoval for his leadership on this groundbreaking piece of legislation” said Jane Feldman, Sierra Club State Energy Task Force Chair. “We commend Governor Sandoval, Senator Harry Reid, and the legislature for working together to end NV Energy’s use of coal in favor of clean energy – this is truly a game changer for Nevada’s energy policy.”

Feldman added: “The real work begins now. NV Energy needs to move as expeditiously as possible to close its coal plants – including the North Valmy power plant. It is equally important that the coal pollution cleanup and remediation gets under way at the Reid Gardner site. The Moapa Paiutes have waited long enough.”

North Valmy, NV Energy’s only other coal plant, is not targeted for early closure in the legislation.

Vickie Simmons, leading member of the Moapa Band of Paiutes Health and Environmental Committees, said: “It’s now time to move forward. The area around the Reid Gardner plant needs to be fully cleaned up and full remediation must take place so that the coal ash waste does not continue to contaminate the land, air and water near where our families live.”

Sandoval had issued no statement on signing the bill as of the afternoon of June 12, but the legislative website shows that he signed it on June 11.

Reid Gardner has four operating units. The first two (1 and #) nearly identical units went into service in 1965 and 1968. Unit 3 was added in 1976. Each of these units produces 100 MW. The plant’s largest generating unit, Unit 4, is jointly owned by NV Energy and California Department of Water Resources. This 257-MW unit was commissioned in 1983.

The Navajo Generating Station in Arizona is jointly owned by NV Energy’s Nevada Power unit (which has 255 MW nominal of capacity in this plant) along with five other entities and is operated by the Salt River Project.

The final bill said that an electric utility shall file with the Nevada Public Utilities Commission a comprehensive plan for the reduction of emissions from coal-fired generating plants and the replacement of the capacity of such plants with increased capacity from renewable energy facilities and other electric generating plants. The emissions reduction and capacity replacement plan must provide for the retirement or elimination of:

  • Not less than 300 MW of coal-fired capacity on or before Dec. 31, 2014;
  • In addition to the generating capacity retired or eliminated by the end of 2014, not less than 250 MW of coal-fired capacity on or before Dec. 31, 2017; and
  • In addition to these first two retirement deadlines, not less than 250 MW of coal-fired capacity on or before Dec. 31, 2019.
About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.