Nevada and coal

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Nevada had 8 coal-fired generating stations in 2005, with 2,769 megawatts (MW) of capacity, representing 28.1% of the state's total electric generating capacity; Nevada ranks 33rd out of the 50 states in terms of coal energy production.[1] In 2006, Nevada's coal-fired power plants produced 9.6 million tons of CO2, 9,000 tons of sulfur dioxide, and 15,000 tons of nitrogen oxide; coal-fired power plants were responsible for 22.3% of the state's total CO2 emissions.[2] In 2005, Nevada emitted 17.9 tons of CO2 per person, about 10% below the U.S. average.[3] (281 MW of Nevada's power capacity comes from geothermal energy - the second-highest total of any state in the country.)

There was no coal mining in Nevada in 2006.[4]

Nevada Fights for Clean Energy.

Citizen activism


There is no history of coal mining in Nevada.[5] The coal power industry has historically also been very weak in Nevada, which is dominated by natural gas-fired energy production. However, the recent rise in energy prices in California has resulted in a rash of coal power plant proposals in Nevada; there are currently four active proposals, totaling 4,050 MW (which would more than double Nevada's existing coal-fired energy capacity). These proposals have sparked a series of intense political battles, at both the local and state levels.[6][7]

Studies on Coal Use in Nevada

A study released in July 2010 by the Civil Society Institute argued that it was technically and economically viable to retire all coal and nuclear based power in seven Western states, including Washington.

The region covered in the study was said to have enough renewable sources of energy and, combined with energy conservation measures, the transition away from coal and nuclear could take place within 30 years time. In this scenario, according to the Civil Society Institute study, the entire Northwest could retire 11,000 megawatts of coal-fired power and add at least 12,000 megawatts of onshore wind power.[8]

Legislative issues

In an attempt to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the Reid Gardner Station began burning a mixture of biomass with coal. NV Energy, as part of the state energy portfolio standard, must produce 25% of its energy using renewable resources by 2025. However, lawmakers contend that burning biomass in coal-fired plants, with coal, was not what they envisioned. Additionally, another controversy has arisen over the wood from the Kaibab National Forest in Northern Arizona which is supplying the plant's biomass. Some critics contend that biomass actually is not a sustainable renewable energy resource.[9]

Proposed coal plants



Coal lobbying groups

Coal power companies

Existing coal plants

Nevada had 8 coal-fired generating stations in 2005, with 2,769 MW of capacity - representing 28.1% of the state's total electric generating capacity. Here is a list of coal power plants in Nevada with capacity over 400 MW:[1][10][11]

Plant Name County Owner Year(s) Built Capacity 2007 CO2 Emissions 2006 SO2 Emissions SO2/MW Rank
Mohave (shut down) Clark Edison International 1971 1636 MW 0 tons 0 tons N/A
Reid Gardner Clark Sierra Pacific Resources 1965, 1968, 1976, 1983 612 MW 5,259,000 tons 2,015 tons 248
North Valmy Humboldt Sierra Pacific Resources 1981, 1985 521 MW 4,387,000 tons 7,161 tons 208

These 3 plants represent 100% of Nevada's coal energy generating capacity, 22.3% of the state's total CO2 emissions, and 31.9% of its total SO2 emissions.[3]

For a map of existing coal plants in the state, see the bottom of this page.

Mohave Generating Station

Mohave Generating Station is a non-operational 1640 megawatt coal fired power plant located in Laughlin, Nevada, near the border of California and Arizona. Southern California Edison is the majority owner of the plant and was its operator. The plant has been shut down since 2005.[12] Coal for the plant was transported in a 273 mile long slurry pipeline from the Peabody Energy Black Mesa coal mine, located on lands belonging to the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe.

Mohave Generating Station

In 2005, the Mohave Generating Station ceased operations due to a Clean Air Act lawsuit and because Navajo and Hopi tribes passed resolutions ending Peabody’s use of the Black Mesa aquifer. According to the EPA, the coal plant was the dirtiest in the Western U.S., emitting up to 40,000 tons of sulfur dioxide per year.[13] Southern California Edison chose to shut down the plant rather than upgrade it to acceptable pollution standards.

AN ILL WIND - The Secret Threat of Coal Ash at Reid Gardner.

Drinking water contaminated with hexavalent chromium from coal may cause cancer

A report released by EarthJustice and the Sierra Club in early February 2011 stated that there are many health threats associated a toxic cancer-causing chemical found in coal ash waste called hexavalent chromium. The report specifically cited 29 sites in 17 states where the contamination was found. The information was gathered from existing EPA data on coal ash and included locations in Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Massachusetts, North Carolina, North Dakota, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virgina and Wisconsin. In Nevada, the Reid Gardner Station in Moapa was reported as having high levels of chromium seeping into groundwater.[14]

As a press release about the report read:

Hexavalent chromium first made headlines after Erin Brockovich sued Pacific Gas & Electric because of poisoned drinking water from hexavalent chromium. Now new information indicates that the chemical has readily leaked from coal ash sites across the U.S. This is likely the tip of the iceberg because most coal ash dump sites are not adequately monitored.[15]

Reid Gardner coal-ash landfill expansion moves forward

On April 28, 2011 NV Energy moved a step closer toward expanding its controversial landfill for toxic coal-ash waste at its power plant near Moapa, Nevada.

Southern Nevada Health District's board directed its staff to proceed with finalizing conditions for a permit it approved in October 2011 to expand the Reid Gardner Station's landfill, paving the way for 35 more years of operating the coal-fired plant. Moapa Band of Paiutes and the Sierra Club opposed the expansion, noting that it would likely lead to an increase in local water contamination.[16]

Reid Gardner Station to be closed in 2014 and 2017

In June 2013, Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval signed a law accelerating the retirement of Reid Gardner Station. Three of the plant's four units will close in 2014, and the remaining unit will close in 2017.[17] Prior to the new law units 1, 2, and 3 had been scheduled for retirement in 2020 under Nevada Power Company's 2010-2029 Integrated Resource Plan.[18]

Major coal mines

There are no major coal mines in Nevada.[19]

Citizen groups



  1. 1.0 1.1 Existing Electric Generating Units in the United States, 2005, Energy Information Administration, accessed April 2008.
  2. Estimated Emissions for U.S. Electric Power Industry by State, 1990-2006, Energy Information Administration, 2007.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Nevada Energy Consumption Information, eRedux website, accessed June 2008.
  4. Coal Production and Number of Mines by State and Mine Type, Energy Information Administration, accessed June 2008.
  5. State Coal Profiles, Energy Information Administration, 1994 - cached copy at
  6. “Nevada Denies Plea to Delay New Coal Power Plants", Reuters, September 10, 2007.
  7. “Reid’s Coal Battle On Hold", Las Vegas Review-Journal, December 18, 2007.
  8. "Study says Northwest can quit coal power and save money" Dustin Bleizeffer,, July 29, 2010.
  9. "Wood: Not the renewable energy some had in mind," Stephanie Tavares, ’’Las Vegas Sun’’, November 9, 2009
  10. Environmental Integrity Project, "Dirty Kilowatts: America’s Most Polluting Power Plants", July 2007.
  11. Dig Deeper, Carbon Monitoring for Action database, accessed June 2008.
  12. “Clearing California’s Coal Shadow from the American West,” accessed July 2008
  13. “Making a Just Transition” Timothy Lesle, Sierra Club newsletter, May 2006
  14. [ "EPA’s Blind Spot: Hexavalent Chromium in Coal Ash"] Earthjustice & Sierra Club, February 1, 2011.
  15. "Coal ash waste tied to cancer-causing chemicals in water supplies" Alicia Bayer,, February 1, 2011.
  16. "Controversial coal-ash landfill expansion near Moapa moves forward" Keith Rogers, Las Vegas Review Journal, April 28, 2011.
  17. Chris Clarke, "Nevada to Phase Out Energy Produced by Coal, Enviros and Tribes Applaud Move," Rewire, June 12, 2013
  18. Final order on Nevada Power Company 2010-2029 Triennial Integrated Resource Plan, Nevada Public Utilities Commission, Docket 10-02009, July 28, 2010, page 17
  19. Major U.S. Coal Mines, Energy Information Administration, accessed June 2008.

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