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Reid hails shutdown of coal-fired units near Moapa

CARSON CITY — A milestone in Nevada’s energy history was reached earlier this month when three of four coal-fired units at the Reid Gardner plant near Moapa were permanently shut down.

The fourth and final coal-fired unit is scheduled to close in 2017.

U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev., on Wednesday commented on the event, saying Nevada’s energy future is in the development of solar, wind and geothermal resources.

“The Reid Gardner plant became operational during the Johnson Administration and its closure is a significant step toward Nevada taking control of its energy future, creating an environment for developing new clean renewable energy, while creating jobs for Nevadans that cannot be outsourced,” Reid said in a statement.

“For years the Moapa Band of Paiutes endured the consequences of breathing dangerous pollution from the Reid Gardner coal plant, and I am pleased that Nevadans and its leaders united to stand up for the Moapa Band and create new opportunities for the tribe,” he said.

The closure of the plant was part of a plan submitted by Nevada Power, operating as part of NV Energy, to comply with legislation passed by the Legislature in 2013. The bill sought to end the utility’s reliance on coal to produce electricity for its Nevada customers.

That plan, with one major modification, was approved earlier this month by the Nevada Public Utilities Commission.

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

The three units were shut down on Dec. 20. They will be dismantled, a process that will take between one and two years, the utility said.

The capacity is being replaced initially with the purchase of two gas plants, the LV Cogen Unit 2 and Sun-Peak Generating Unit, which will provide 496 megawatts of replacement power generation. Also approved was a 15-megawatt solar project at Nellis Air Force Base.

But a solar project sought by the utility for construction on the Moapa Band of Paiutes tribal land was not approved as part of the replacement plan, which was cause for disappointment for Reid and others, including tribal leaders.

Reid said clean energy has created thousands of good-paying jobs and invested billions in Nevada’s economy, and the PUC “should not stand in the way of this progress” by denying the project.

Contact Capital Bureau reporter Sean Whaley at swhaley@reviewjournal.com or 775-687-3900. Follow @seanw801 on Twitter.

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