U.S. Water News Online
PHOENIX -- Costly upgrades and a requirement to install
pollution controls could prompt Southern California Edison to shut
down a power plant near the Nevada-Arizona border by the end of 2005,
The Mohave Generating Station in Laughlin, Nev., could reopen in
2009 or 2010, but Southern California Edison officials estimate it
would cost $1.1 billion to upgrade the 35-year-old plant and install
pollution control equipment required under a 1999 consent decree with
Without the upgrades, the 1,580-megawatt plant cannot legally
operate past 2005 when its initial 35-year operating permit expires.
Southern California Edison Chief Executive Officer Al Fohrer said
the company would like to continue to operate the plant for another
20 years but is not willing to invest in the upgrades without a
binding agreement for water and coal for the plant until at least
At issue is the 4,000 acre feet of groundwater per year that is
required to operate the Black Mesa Coal Mine near Kayenta, Ariz., and
transport the coal in a 273-mile slurry pipeline to the power plant.
The Hopi Tribe believes the pumping is depleting the Navajo
aquifer and causing sacred springs and water sources to dry up.
The tribes are unwilling to allow the pumping of groundwater for
mining beyond 2005 and has sued mine operator Peabody Energy Corp.,
alleging the company has shortchanged it on royalty payments.
The plant employs about 325 people and has an estimated economic
impact of $365 million annually for Laughlin, 100 miles south of Las
Vegas, and northwestern Arizona communities.
The Black Mesa Coal Mine employs 240 people and another 50 people
work for the Black Mesa Pipeline, which caries the coal to the plant.
"Tragically, these two operations would cease if the plant
closes," said Beth Sutton, a spokeswoman for Peabody.
Peabody's Kayenta Coal Mine, adjacent to the Black Mesa mine,
would continue to produce coal for the Salt River Project-operated
Navajo Generating Station near Page until 2011. The coal is shipped
Peabody is looking for new sources of water and is exploring the
Coconino aquifer, which is much larger than the Navajo body and is
beneath private land that could be acquired by the company.
The generating station is partially owned by SRP and provides the
Phoenix metropolitan area with 320 megawatts of low-cost electricity,
enough to light 100,000 homes.
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