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North Las Vegas power plant proposal dropped

EP Renewable Inc., backer of a controversial waste-burning gasification power plant proposed in North Las Vegas, has withdrawn its application for a special use permit needed to build the facility off Losee and Lone Mountain Roads.

Permit engineer Keith Brinkley spoke on the Florida-based company’s behalf at a North Las Vegas City Council meeting on Wednesday.

“They’ve decided not to go forward with the project at 2900 East Lone Mountain Road,” Brinkley told council members. “They would like to state that they have a good neighbor policy and due to the concerns of neighbors in the area, they are withdrawing the project at this point.”

EP Renewable CEO Leonardo Riera did not respond to requests for comment.

Brinkley declined to comment on why the company got cold feet. He deferred further comment on any future plans in the area to company officials, who are expected to release a formal statement by the end of the week.

The company’s sudden departure ends a three-month, back-and-forth over the planning commission-approved plant, which would have churned out 48 megawatts of daily power through the low oxygen incineration of up to 1,000 tons of construction waste.

Opponents at the Melbrum Trust had expressed serious misgivings over the environmental impact of the proposal, funding a public relations blitz aimed at discrediting proponents’ claims of the environmental safety of the project and sounding the alarm over potentially carcinogenic emissions at the plant site.

Other independent plant skeptics feared $108 million project smelled too much like Amonix — the North Las Vegas-based solar manufacturing plant that promised 300 jobs but was shuttered within a year of collecting some $20 million in federal subsidies.

Entities including the Governor’s Office of Economic Development, NV Energy and New York-based financiers at Oppenheimer &Co. lined up to offer some measure of support for the effort in the weeks leading up to Wednesday’s abrupt pull out.

The announcement came as a relief to Ward 4 Councilman Wade Wagner, who questioned the plant’s suitability for a lot situated within a few miles of multiple schools.

“I know the zoning was proper, but I think we need to take a closer look at what they allow in that area,” Wagner said.

“It’s a relief to me because I wasn’t going to be able to support it,” he added.

Ward 1 Councilman Isaac Barron, while equally relieved, hinted he hadn’t written the company off for good.

“I do appreciate the fact that EP Renewable chose us out of any number of places they could have gone,” Barron said. “At the same time I’m happy they listened to our public and voluntarily decided to be good neighbors.”

Officials still plan to attend a town hall meeting on the topic scheduled for 6 p.m. Wednesday at Dickens Elementary, where city leaders now look set to address “general issues” raised by residents in attendance.

Contact reporter James DeHaven at 702-477-3839 or jdehaven@reviewjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JamesDeHaven.

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