Enviro groups wants to bag all of Navajo coal plant, not part of it

Public interest and environmental groups are putting on pressure to shut the coal-fired Navajo power plant entirely, not save part of the plant through a partial shutdown of some of its capacity to meet regional haze needs.

The Sierra Club said Nov. 14 that a coalition of Navajo clean energy supporters, health advocates, and conservationists are delivering a message to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) asking for “No More Delays” in cleaning up what they called one of the biggest polluters in Arizona. The media event coincided with EPA’s Nov. 14 open house in Phoenix on plans to address Navajo Generating Station (NGS) pollution.

As the EPA considers plans to reduce regional haze from the plant, the club said that a Technical Work Group (TWG) has offered up an alternative plan that poses significant problems including: proposed delays, lack of enforceability, and lack of a clear pathway to a clean energy transition. The TWG proposal being pushed by plant operator the Salt River Project (SRP) lacks a clear enforceable path to end coal’s dirty legacy in the region, the club claimed.

On July 26, a group of stakeholders, known as the Technical Work Group (TWG), submitted to EPA their suggested alternative to BART (the “TWG Alternative”). That group included plant ownership.

The TWG Alternative establishes a lifetime cap in NOX emissions over 2009-2044 (the 2009-2044 NOX Cap) that is equivalent to the cumulative NOX emissions over 2009-2044 that NGS would emit under EPA’s proposed Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) determination of 0.055 lb/MMBtu achieved within five years of the final rule. Due to on-going lease and ownership uncertainties, the operators of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) cannot yet commit to a single course of action for maintaining emissions below the 2009-2044 NOX Cap. The TWG Alternative therefore includes several alternative operating scenarios for meeting the 2009-2044 NOX Cap.

Navajo is located on the Navajo Nation Indian Reservation, just east of Page, Ariz. NGS is co-owned by six entities: the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation – 24.3%; SRP, which also acts as the facility operator – 21.7%; Los Angeles Department of Water and Power – 21.2%; Arizona Public Service – 14%; Nevada Power – 11.3%; and Tucson Electric Power  – 7.5%.

The three-unit, 2,250-MW plant is located on the Navajo Nation, less than 20 miles from the Grand Canyon, near Page, Ariz., and the Utah state line. The coal used by NGS is supplied by the Kayenta strip mine in Arizona, operated by Peabody Energy and located on reservation lands of both the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe.

The TWG Alternative outlines the operating scenarios that would be required based on various future developments, including LADWP’s and Nevada Power’s planned sales of their stakes in the power plant. The alternatives mostly entail shutdown of one 750-MW unit by the end of 2019, or the curtailment of plant operations by at least 561 MW by the end of 2019, and retrofit for NOX control with selective catalytic reduction (SCR) and other technologies of surviving capacity.

LADWP owns about 477 MW of Navajo, while NV Energy owns approximately 254 MW. The sum of their shares is 731 MW, which is 19 MW short of one 750 MW unit at NGS. That means that those two utilties could exit the plant, one unit could be shut, and that the remaining plant owners could essentially retain their existing shares of what’s left in operation.

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.