Tag Archives: Mohave Generating Station

10/10/2011 Frontiers, the Changing America Desk: Coal Remains King On Navajo Nation…For Now

10/10/2011 Frontiers, the Changing America Desk: Coal Remains King On Navajo Nation…For Now By Laurel Morales: FLAGSTAFF — The last of the world’s largest coal-slurry plants will literally implode next month. The Mohave Generating Station in Laughlin, Nevada closed in 2005 after a series of conflicts with environmentalists and the Navajo Nation over pollution and water use. Explosives will be strategically placed around the steel-framed boiler towers so it will collapse and crumble into dust. And other coal-fired power plants in the region may soon face a similar fate. That puts hundreds of jobs for the Navajo and Hopi tribes in jeopardy.

Navajo Generating Station’s three stacks – each 775 feet tall – are visible from several miles away. This plant was built about the same time as the Mohave, and unlike the decommissioned Mohave plant, has kept on top of pollution control mandates. So it’s still operating, sitting adjacent to Antelope Canyon, one of the most photographed slot canyons in the southwest; and just a couple miles from Lake Powell.

Enough coal is pulverized to power 3 million people in Phoenix, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and beyond. Yet the floor barely vibrates.

In the control room, Julius Fat sits in front of several computer screens and buttons. He points out the two buttons that when pushed together shut down the entire plant.

“You can’t lose your cool in here,” Fat said. “You got to keep it together.”

Fat is one of many Navajos who work for the plant and send money back to their families.

“From my side of the family we have livestock; I have to buy hay for my mom,” Fat said. “There’s a lot of ways people benefit from it. Jobs are hard to find on the reservation.”

In fact, the unemployment rate on the Navajo Nation is almost 50 percent. Coal mines and coal-fired power plants provide about 1,500 jobs and more than a third of the tribe’s annual operating budget. Not to mention scholarships and royalty checks.

But many are worried the plants could shut down.

Environmentalists have targeted coal energy in the region with lawsuits, claiming poor air pollution controls contribute to the haze at Grand Canyon and beyond.

And the EPA is expected to come out with new clean up mandates in coming months – mandates that could cost as much as a billion dollars to upgrade each of the three plants on or near the reservation.

George Hardeen worked for former Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley Jr., and now consults with the Navajo Generating Station.

“When Navajos leave the Navajo Nation they take with them their language, their culture and their way of life,” Hardeen said. “If there are no jobs on the Navajo Nation, they don’t return. The Navajo Generating Station has served as an economic anchor for almost 40 years.”

With coal jobs threatened, the tribe is looking for alternatives. And their geography could be an asset.

Navajo Tribal Utility Authority Manager Walter Haase just signed an agreement with Edison Mission and the Salt River Project to build a large scale wind farm on a ranch owned by the tribe west of Flagstaff.

“This type of project is a paradigm shift for the Native American community,” Haase said.

This is the first renewable project that is majority owned by a tribe. It would create about 350 temporary jobs during construction, but only 10 permanent jobs.

While Haase would like to see the tribe offset its economic dependence on coal, he says it’s not practical to say renewable energy will replace coal.

“So if you were to switch from one to the other, which isn’t physically possible, you’re going from 1,500 jobs down to 150 jobs,” Haase said. “That’s a losing equation for anybody.”

Many renewable energy developers have tried and failed to get projects started on the reservation.

Navajo community developer Brett Isaac is trying to bring commercial solar projects and green jobs to his home town of Shonto. But he said he has to tread carefully. He has many relatives who work in the coal industry.

“If they were to close tomorrow, we would be in a whole mess of trouble,” Isaac said. “We’re to some degree supportive of them continuing operation. The regulations are going to catch up with them and we need to start planning ahead and thinking about the long term.”

Isaac is willing to forge a compromise and move slowly toward a better solution. In the meantime, legislators have asked the EPA to give the Navajo Generating Station another 15 years without additional upgrades. This would buy some time for a more diverse and clean industry to develop on the reservation.

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9/13/2011 Board recommends removal of Black Mesa coal slurry pipeline

9/13/2011 Board recommends removal of Black Mesa coal slurry pipeline By JIM SECKLER/The Daily News: KINGMAN — The county supervisors recommended Monday the removal of a coal slurry pipeline that stretches across the county. The supervisors recommended the removal of the coal slurry pipeline on public lands in the county at the expense of its owner, Black Mesa Pipeline Inc. The company had sought to relinquish its rights to the pipeline. The pipeline starts on the Navajo reservation and runs east to west across Mohave County crossing through northern Kingman and ending in Bullhead City.

Laughlin/Bullhead International Airport Director David Gaines asked the board to remove several hundred feet of the pipeline, some of it which goes under the airport’s runway and taxiway. He also recommended another section to be sealed in concrete and capped so a firehouse can be built.

One speaker spoke of keeping some of the easement for the pipeline to transport water and possibly fiber optics in the future. However, Mohave County Manager Ron Walker said most of the 40-year-old pipeline is in poor shape and could be a liability to the county.

The pipeline parallels Interstate 40 from Seligman westward then runs through northern Kingman running parallel to Highway 68 through Golden Valley before it crosses the Black Mountains and into Bullhead City to Laughlin.

The 273-mile coal slurry pipeline fed into the now defunct Mohave Generating Station in Laughlin that was shut down in December 2005. The 40-year-old power plant’s 500-foot smoke stack was demolished in March.

When MGS was in operation, the coal was mixed with water and pumped through the pipeline from the mines on the Navajo reservation to MGS. The water was extracted from the slurry and the coal was burned to fuel the plant’s turbines.

5/20/2011 AP: Navajo coal plant focus of congressional hearing

5/20/2011 Navajo coal plant focus of congressional hearing by FELICIA FONSECA, Associated Press: FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. (AP) — The fate of a coal-fired power plant that provides hundreds of jobs to American Indians, yet spews tons of emissions that cloud the view at the Grand Canyon and other parks, is uncertain. The Navajo Generating Station in Page serves as an economic engine that ensures water and power demands are met in major metropolitan areas. Conservationists see it as a health and environmental hazard and want to wean the plant off its reliance to coal in favor of renewable energy. A factor in whether the more than 40-year-old plant survives is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which regulates power plants on tribal lands. The agency is deciding whether to issue pollution controls this summer for the plant, which is one of the biggest sources of nitrogen oxide emissions in the country.

“Our job is to decide, ‘Are the parks adequately protected?'” said Colleen McKaughan, associate director of the EPA’s air division in San Francisco. “And if they’re not, does the facility need additional pollution controls?”

The role of the plant also has become the focus of a congressional hearing Tuesday in Washington, D.C., that came at the request of Republican Reps. Trent Franks and Paul Gosar, who represent the Hopi and Navajo tribes, respectively. They say requiring pollution controls would force the plant to close and devastate the tribal communities that rely on the jobs and revenue from coal that feeds the plant.

“This is a way to highlight the impact that it is having and the lack of commonsense that’s being adjudicated when we’re talking about coal-fired plants,” Gosar said.

Environmentalists see the hearing as a coordinated attack on the EPA and say the plant’s owners are creating unnecessary alarm with their doom-and-gloom predictions over the EPA’s actions.

Nitrogen oxide is only a small part of the issue, and the future could bring regulations for mercury and carbon dioxide, said Vernon Masayesva, a Hopi and director of the Black Mesa Trust.

“We should not put our energies into fighting over a visibility issue,” said Masayesva, who’s scheduled to testify Tuesday. “In doing so, we’re dividing the Navajo people.”

The 2,250-megawatt power plant began producing electricity in 1974 and is supplied by coal from Peabody Energy’s Kayenta Mine. Some 1,000 people are employed at the power plant and mine combined, with the majority being American Indians.

The plant’s owners are trying to stave off the EPA’s proposals to give themselves more time to secure lease extensions and right-of-way grants that begin expiring in 2019.

They contend that a $45 million upgrade of the three 750-megawatt units at the plant, which will include burners that reduce nitrogen oxide emissions by 40 percent, or 14,000 tons per year, should be sufficient to help clear up the haze at the Grand Canyon. Further upgrades could cost $1.1 billion, they say.

“That puts the owners in a situation where we’re being asked to make a significant investment with a lot of uncertainty over whether the plant would be able to operate long enough to recover that investment,” said Glen Reeves, manager of power generation for the Salt River Project, which operates the plant. “That’s the tenuous situation we’re in.”

The EPA must consider the best available retrofit technology, or BART, for reducing such emissions, which are expensive selective catalytic converters. If the EPA goes that route, it would set the plant’s owners on a timeline to install the pollution controls.

“We’re definitely for the most stringent air quality measures that can be had,” said Andy Bessler of the Sierra Club. “That’s what BART stands for.”

For some, the current situation brings back memories of the Mohave Generating Station, which shut down in 2006 because it needed pollution-control upgrades to comply with a 199 Clean Air Act settlement, a new water supply and pipeline upgrades costing $1.1 billion.

But SRP officials say the effects of shutting down Navajo Generating Station would have a farther reach. The power plant provides energy to deliver water from the Colorado River to Tucson and Phoenix through a series of canals.

Those interested in what becomes of Navajo Generating Station began meeting in January in an effort to come to an agreement on its future. The plan was to give the EPA a proposal by March that the agency could consider in making a decision on pollution controls, but that didn’t happen.

At least one Navajo environmental group pulled out of the discussions because it said the talks were a tactic to keep the power plant running and stall the EPA’s actions. Similar groups are pushing a 10-year transition to renewable energy.

“That’s a win-win right there,” Masayesva said.

The plant’s owners have said they would support a study to see if that’s feasible.

Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/business/article/Navajo-coal-plant-focus-of-congressional-hearing-1388913.php#ixzz1N0AfS0lI

Read more: http://www.ctpost.com/business/article/Navajo-coal-plant-focus-of-congressional-hearing-1388913.php#ixzz1N0AWlt7V