Nevada Power prepares for shutdown of Reid Gardner coal plant

With Reid Gardner Units 1-3 due to shut in 2014, and Reid Gardner Unit 4 to shut in 2017, Nevada Power plans to zero out the coal inventories for those units by the end of each of those shutdown years.

That is according to an updated Electric Supply Plan for the 2014-2015 period that Nevada Power filed on Aug. 30 at the Nevada Public Utilities Commission. The Reid Gardner retirement plan was approved earlier this year by Nevada legislators under a broad plan that charts the energy future for Nevada Power and Sierra Pacific Power, which are both units of NV Energy (NYSE: NVE).

Providing testimony on coal supply was Joseph Brignola, Manager, Coal Supply & Operations. He noted that in all of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013, Reid Gardner’s coal burn fell due to cheap natural gas-fired generation. As gas prices moved up more recently, Reid Gardner Units 1-3 have dispatched better, upping their coal burn.

Another factor that helped pull down bloated inventory at the plant is that beginning in the last half of 2012, the California Department of Water Resources, which has been a co-owner of Reid Gardner Unit 4, started to burn down its coal inventory to zero by July of this year – prior to its exit from taking any power from the unit due to greenhouse gas concerns.

Between the higher burns lately, and the department’s coal drawdown program, coal stockpiles at the plant are about at normal levels, Brignola said.

With no firm coal contracted beyond this year, he said the plan is to issue a request for proposals this year for 2014 base coal supplies, with later spot coal buys to be made if the demand for the utility’s coal-fired power justifies it.

U.S. Energy Information Administration data shows the primary coal supplier to Reid Gardner earlier this year was the SUFCO longwall mine in Utah, recently bought from Arch Coal by Bowie Resources LLC. Coal operator Robert Murray’s West Ridge mine in Utah also supplied some coal to the plant earlier this year, according to the EIA data. The ESP filing said the company has two contracts with Arch Coal Sales for SUFCO coal, that were in the process of being transferred to Bowie, that expire at the end of this year.

The ESP filing noted that Reid Gardner is served for coal deliveries by the Union Pacific railroad, though the BNSF Railway has for years had trackage rights to serve the plant that it has never been able to cost-effectively use. The UP rail contract for Reid Gardner expires at the end of 2014. Nevada Power has two leases for a total of 205 aluminum railcars with outside companies that expire at the end of 2013 and the end of 2014.

Reid Gardner has a total capacity of 557 MW and has four operating units. The first two nearly identical units went into service in 1965 and 1968. A third similar unit was added in 1976. Each of these units (Units 1-3) produces 100 MW with Foster Wheeler boilers and GE turbine-generators. Unit 4 is a 257-MW facility that was commissioned in 1983 and uses a Foster Wheeler boiler to drive a Westinghouse turbine generator.

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.