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Nevada Power wants to close coal-fired Reid Gardner early

CARSON CITY — Nevada Power Co. wants to close its coal-fired Reid Gardner plant at Moapa ahead of schedule.

In a filing made Monday with the Nevada Public Utilities Commission, the utility is proposing to close the fourth unit at the plant after using all the remaining coal inventory, which is estimated to occur about Feb. 28.

The utility, part of NV Energy, has asked for action on the plan by utility regulators by the end of 2016.

The utility had originally proposed to close the fourth and final unit of the Reid Gardner plant by Dec. 31, 2017. Three other units at the plant were closed in late December of 2014 as part of a plan submitted by Nevada Power to comply with legislation passed by the Legislature in 2013. The measure, Senate Bill 123, sought to end the utility’s reliance on coal to produce electricity for its Southern Nevada customers.

To replace the loss of the 250 megawatts of capacity at Unit 4, Nevada Power is proposing a 100 megawatt renewable power purchase agreement, and the acquisition of a natural-gas fueled combined cycle facility called South Point.

“Together, these filings position Nevada Power to meet the objectives of SB 123 while maintaining its ability to provide reliable and low-cost energy services to customers,” the utility said in the filing.

The new solar energy project is the result of a Request for Proposals that was issued earlier this year. With the oversight of an independent evaluator, NV Energy signed a 25-year power purchase agreement with Techren Solar LLC to build a 100-megawatt high-efficiency single-axis solar photovoltaic project in Eldorado Valley. The project is in the development phase and, subject to regulatory approval, is expected to be operational in the fourth quarter of 2018.

NV Energy’s Senior Vice President of Energy Supply Kevin Geraghty said of the new solar project, “At an average cost of energy for the life of the project at approximately four cents per kilowatt-hour, this is one of the lowest-cost solar projects in the nation.”

Nevada Power also plans to end its ownership interest in the Navajo Generating Station near Page, Ariz., by 2019. In all, 812 megawatts of coal-fired generation are being retired or eliminated under the plan and the utility will no longer generate electricity from coal.

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, who has pushed for the closure of the plant, praised the decision to close the final unit early.

“The Reid Gardner coal plant will soon be part of Nevada’s past,” he said in a statement released Monday. “For decades this dirty relic spewed filth into Nevada’s pristine air, sickening the neighboring Moapa Band of Paiutes. This plant should have been retired long ago and I am pleased that this process will be sped up, pending approval from the Public Utilities Commission.”

Reid said Nevada’s energy future is in renewables, especially solar and geothermal.

Contact Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-461-3820. Find him on Twitter: @seanw801

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