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Construction of White Pine Energy Station near Ely postponed

For the second time in less than a month, a major power company has scrubbed plans for a coal-fired electric plant in Nevada.

New York-based LS Power said Thursday it has indefinitely postponed construction of its 1,600-megawatt White Pine Energy Station near Ely because of poor economic conditions and "increasing regulatory uncertainties."

However, LS Power will forge ahead with its Southwest Intertie Project, a 500-mile transmission line stretching from southern Idaho to Las Vegas. Construction on the transmission line could begin as early as the summer, and when it’s complete, it’ll help move renewable energy generated in rural areas to the cities that need the power.

LS Power’s announcement came on the same day that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada held a news conference to discuss laws that would encourage investments in transmission lines for renewable power.

It also comes just a few weeks after Southern Nevada’s electric utility, NV Energy, temporarily shelved plans for a coal-fired power plant in Ely.

NV Energy officials said Feb. 9 that they would postpone development of the 1,500-megawatt Ely Energy Center until technology for capturing and storing carbon dioxide was more readily available. That could mean a delay of 10 years or more, they said.

Power companies looking to build coal-fired electric plants face an increasingly tough environment for pushing projects through the permitting process, as green groups and politicians point to concerns about the effect that burning coal, with its carbon-dioxide emissions, might have on the planet’s climate.

Reid couldn’t be reached for comment after LS Power’s announcement late Thursday, but he issued a statement after the NV Energy decision in February in which he "applauded" the company for delaying the Ely Energy Center, and focusing instead on plans for the 250-mile transmission line for the plant.

With LS Power and NV Energy stopping their projects, that leaves New York-based Sithe Global Power as the only company continuing to pursue plans for a coal-powered plant in Nevada.


Contact reporter Jennifer Robison at jrobison@reviewjournal.com or 702-380-4512.

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