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With Plans To Keep Coal Plant Open, NV Energy Draws Fire From Environmental Groups

NV Energy has said it plans to keep one of the state’s last coal-powered
plants open – possibly for another seven years.

It’s about 500 miles north of Las Vegas in Valmy, Nevada.

NV Energy has pledged to move away from coal, and last year closed its
controversial Reid-Garner coal plant near Moapa.

The Sierra Club has said this is counter-intuitive to those clean energy
initiatives.

Elspeth DiMarzio is the Sierra Club’s Nevada representative. She told KNPR's State of Nevada that NV Energy's own analysis of the Valmy plant showed it is more cost effective to shut it down.

“Our objection is that it is economic harm to ratepayers and it’s not good for the environment,” DiMarzio said.

She said that NV Energy has made claims about its commitment to clean energy but it is time for the company to "walk the walk and not just talk the talk."

When KNPR's State of Nevada talked with NV Energy's Senior Vice President of Operations Kevin Geraghty, he said the plant is the only way to get power to its northern Nevada customers.

DiMarzio disputes that claim. She said the company's own analysis showed solar power would cost less. 

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She said part of the problem is that the plant in Valmy is not being used at 100 percent capacity. It is only being used in the summer months during peak power use. 

DiMarzio said using coal-fired power plants like that is very expensive because they need to be ramped up and down so often.

“We would like to see that capacity replaced with solar and potentially solar with storage, which is very economical and environmentally friendly way to generate electricity," she said.

She said she is confused why NV Energy isn't going ahead with its original plan to close the first unit of the power plant next year. 

However, Geraghty said it would cost money to build a new plant and the power company can't bring power to the area from out of state.

He did say NV Energy's decision on the plant was only preliminary and after more study a final decision would be made.

Guests

Elspeth DiMarzio, Nevada representative, Sierra Club 

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