LAS VEGAS— Yesterday, NV Energy filed plans to retire and replace the Reid Gardner coal plant with clean energy by submitting its Emissions Reduction and Capacity Replacement Plan to the Nevada Public Utilities Commission. The plan outlines how NV Energy intends to retire and replace the Reid Gardner coal plant, including the purchase of new solar farm projects. The retiring of the Reid Gardner coal plant marks a remarkable triumph for the Moapa Band of Paiutes, who fought for years against the pollution and health problems that the plant brought to their reservation, and who are also developing one of the solar projects that will help replace it.
“When we first started to call for the retirement of Reid Gardner, we were told it couldn't be done,” said Vickie Simmons, member of the Moapa Band of Paiutes’ Tribal Council and its Environmental Committee. “Now we are nearly there. The coal plant that has for years poisoned our reservation will finally retire and the state of Nevada will build more renewable energy. This will mean a cleaner and better future for our families and community.”
In a move that signaled a change in NV Energy’s direction, the remaining capacity is proposed to be replaced by building 200 MW of solar energy on the Moapa Band of Paiutes’ land, buying 15 MW of solar at Nellis Air Force Base, and by purchasing 496 MW of existing gas plants in southern Nevada. The company will also seek permission to build an additional solar facility next to the Harry Allen Generating Station. As mandated by SB 123, which passed in last year’s legislature, NV Energy is required to build at least 350 MW of new renewable energy projects as part of the plan.
For the past several years, Sierra Club has worked with the Moapa Band of Paiutes, who live adjacent to the Reid Gardner coal plant, to advocate for its closure and cleanup. Tribal members suffer from multiple health issues including asthma, lung disease, heart disease and others that may be related to the plant’s toxic coal ash dust. The plant also pollutes Southern Nevada air with smog-producing oxides of nitrogen and toxins like mercury, cadmium, lead and arsenic.
“When the Beyond Coal campaign started, few could imagine a life without coal powered energy,” said Bruce Nilles, Director of Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign. “Today, with the retirement of the Reid Gardner Coal Plant, Americans are demanding a coal free life and millions are already experiencing the benefits of cleaner, affordable sources of energy like wind and solar.”
Under SB 123, state legislation signed into law last June, the utility will retire three Reid Gardner coal plant units by the end of this year, and retire the fourth and final unit by the end of 2017. In addition, by the end of 2019 NV Energy will cease buying coal power from the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona. The plant’s retirement is a major victory for the Moapa Band of Paiutes, who with NV Energy will soon be building a major solar facility on their tribal lands.
The retirement of the Reid Gardner coal plant represents the 165th coal plant to retire or announce their retirement since 2010, removing nearly 20% of the nation’s total coal-powered energy capacity. Today, the United States has more than 61,000 megawatts of installed wind capacity and 13,000 MWs of installed solar capacity, enough to power the equivalent of 20 million American homes.