Judge approves Nevada Power settlement over coal plant pollution

A judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada on Oct. 14 signed off on a settlement between the Moapa Band of Pauite Indians and Nevada Power over Clean Water Act issues related to the coal-fired Reid Gardner Generating Station.

The Sierra Club was also party to the litigation alongside the tribe. Another defendant was the California Department of Water Resources (CDWR). The approved deal settled a citizen suit under the Clean Water Act and the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act alleging unlawful discharge of pollutants and violations for imminent and substantial endangerment and open dumping at a coal-fired power plant in Moapa, Nevada, that is owned in part and operated by Nevada Power and owned in part by CDWR.

Judge Jennifer A. Dorsey approved a deal where Nevada Power commits to information sharing during the course of investigation, characterization, determination of corrective actions, and post-closure monitoring at the Reid Gardner Site. The plant is being shut under a state policy to move toward cleaner generation sources. Under this settlement, Nevada Power agrees to permanently close and retire Reid Gardner Unit 4 by Dec. 31, 2017, which is something it needed to do anyway under the state mandates.

Nevada Power will also have to pay to the Moapa Paiutes $4.3 million, which will fund various supplemental environmental projects, or equivalent projects that the Moapa Paiutes may choose at their sole discretion. Plaintiffs assert that the purpose of these projects, or any equivalent projects is to mitigate the harm and risk associated with contamination of the Reid Gardner site. That includes a community wellness center on the Moapa Paiute Indian Reservation, and sdditional stationary and mobile air-quality monitoring equipment for the Moapa Reservation.

Nevada Power also agreed that the Moapa Paiutes will have the right, subject to the existing right of first refusal held by the Southern Nevada Water Authority, to make a purchase of up to 500 acre-feet of the water rights associated with the Reid Gardner Plant at market price.

Reid Gardner Units 1-3 were retired in December 2014 and Unit 4 (257 MW net) is to be retired by the end of 2017. Decommissioning and demolition of Units 1-3 began in January of this year.

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.