Tue | May 23, 2017

Push to close last Nevada coal plant centers on money

Published:Sunday | March 19, 2017 | 3:09 AM

RENO, Nev. (AP):

Sierra Club lawyers who've preached against the environmental evils of coal-burning power plants for decades are trying to force the closure of the last significant one in renewable energy-rich Nevada with arguments based on a different sort of green: money.

"It used to be that we had to come in and say closing these plants might cost us a bit more, but it's the right thing to do because of the social and environmental impacts -- kids with asthma, dirty air and dirty water," said Travis Ritchie, a lawyer for the club's environmental law program in Oakland, California.

"And those things are all still true, but we don't have to say that anymore," he said. "We can say, 'You will lose money if you keep using these coal plants'."

Critics of the Valmy coal plant scored a key victory last month when state regulators formally ordered Nevada's largest utility to reassess its economic efficiency after experts projected it will cost ratepayers US$30 million or more under current plans to keep it open until 2025.

This past week, the power plant 250 miles east of Reno became the last utility-owned one still burning coal in Nevada when the Reid-Gardner Generating Station northeast of Las Vegas ended 50 years of operation.