Three Questions: The Reid Gardner Generating Station

reidgardner.jpgSenate Bill 123 has topped Nevada Legislature news lately, but not because of Senator Kelvin Atkinson’s original text about renewable-energy incentives and portfolio standards. No, the headline-grabbing part of SB123 is a surprise amendment filed by NV Energy. The amendment presents a conundrum for environmentalists, offering them something they’ve long sought—at a price no one wants to pay. Lynn Davis, of the National Parks Conservation Association, parses the angst.

What’s good about NV Energy’s proposed amendment to SB123?

It’s the right thing to do—to announce the closure of Reid Gardner Generating Station [40 miles northeast of Las Vegas], along with other coal-fired power plants in the state. This is a stinky, toxic plant, among the oldest and dirtiest in the country. It’s been making people sick and degrading the landscape for too long.

What’s bad about it?

It appears to be an all-or-nothing proposition. … The most grievous thing is that it guts the Public Utilities Commission’s authority. It allows the commission to review and modify—within very narrow parameters—NV Energy’s plans within 210 days after they’re filed, and after that the commission is out of the picture. So, NV Energy could announce its intention to build renewable energy and/or natural gas generation plants and, before even building one thing, begin billing the cost of those projects to Nevada consumers.

Why does an organization that protects national parks care about this amendment?

We’ve been very engaged in closing down degrading coal-fired power plants across the country. In this particular case, Reid Gardner seriously degrades visibility in two parks that have class 1 [air-quality protection] status given by Congress—Grand Canyon and Zion—for as many as 40 days a year.

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