Nevada Does U-Turn Away From Coal, Toward Renewables, Gas

NV Energy, Nevada’s largest utility, says it will close four coal plants near Las Vegas and re-direct investments to renewable energy and natural gas. 

"Environmental regulatory uncertainty and aging coal generation facilities have intersected at this point in time to necessitate forward thinking innovative plans and solutions to
address Nevada’s future energy needs," says NV Energy.

In its first move to own and operate renewable energy plants, the utility plans to build, acquire or contract for 600
megawatts (MW) of wind, solar and geothermal projects over the next five years. 

Its investment in natural gas is bigger, however. NV Energy wants to build or acquire 1,000 MW over the next five years and 1,000 MW more over the next 10 years. 

This "NV Vision" plan would raise utility rates by about 4% over the next 20 years, says NV Energy.

Paiute Indians have been pushing to close the coal plants for years because tribal members are sick from the soot and gases.

"The facility’s coal ash ponds and landfill leach toxics into the groundwater, and dust from coal, coal ash and poisonous residues pollutes our reservation day in, day out," tribal chairman William
Anderson told the Associated Press. 

The switch to natural gas and renewables will create about 4700 construction jobs and about 200 permanent positions. 

Harry Reid (D-NV) has also been calling for the transition. Last year, he released a report showing how federal legislation has spurred the growth of renewable energy in Nevada, and what’s needed to drive more investment.

His report highlights six projects that have contributed over $1 billion to the state’s economy, while adding over 2,200 renewable energy jobs.  

NV Energy’s plan has to be approved by the state legislature.

In March, Los Angeles made a similar announcement – cancelling projects with all coal plants and focusing on renewables.

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