Tag Archives: coal

ngs-closeup-stacks

EPA ruling may close Navajo Generating Station by 2044

The largest coal-fired power plant in the West will produce one-third less energy by 2020 and is on track to cease operations in 2044 under a proposal that the federal government adopted to cut haze-causing emissions of nitrogen oxide at places like the Grand Canyon.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Monday that the owners of the Navajo Generating Station could either shut down one of the plant’s 750-megawatt units or reduce power generation by an equal amount by 2020. The owners would have until 2030 to install pollution controls that would cut nitrogen-oxide emissions by 80 percent.

EPA regional administrator Jared Blumenfeld in San Francisco said a final decision didn’t come easily and required flexibility. Along with meeting energy demands in the West, the 2,250-megawatt plant powers a series of canals that deliver water to Phoenix and Tucson, fuels the economies of the Navajo and Hopi Tribes, and helps fulfill American Indian water-rights settlements with the federal government.

“This is so complex and integrated into the fabric of Arizona,” Blumenfeld said.

The final rule comes five years after the EPA gave notice that it was considering pollution controls for the plant. The agency later released a proposal that would have required the upgrades by 2023.

A group made up of the plant’s operator, tribal and federal officials, a canal system known as the Central Arizona Project and environmental groups said they could do better and came up with their own proposal, which was adopted by the EPA.

Reducing power generation by one-third should come easily because the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and NV Energy have announced their intention to cut ties with the coal plant by 2019. Together, they own almost one-third of the plant near Page, run by the Salt River Project, one of Arizona’s largest utility companies. None of the other owners would lose any power generation as a result.

“On the whole, while we’re increasing our costs associated with the plant, the plant itself is still valuable enough to our customers and Arizona for us to continue,” Salt River Project spokesman Scott Harelson said.

Conservation groups not part of drafting the alternative proposal had urged the EPA to reject it. They said that the best choice EPA could make was to require the plant’s owners to install selective catalytic reduction — similar to catalytic converters on an automobile — by 2018.

The EPA received about 77,000 comments on the alternative proposal.

The final rule means the Navajo Nation ultimately will see less revenue from coal that feeds the power plant. But the executive director of the tribe’s Environmental Protection Agency, Stephen Etsitty, said it provides a better chance of the power plant continuing operations.

“Of course it’s not perfect,” he said. “It’s an indication that EPA is really open to the recommendations of local stakeholders. To me, that’s a good move in the right direction.”

Steve Michel of the environmental group Western Resource Advocates said he would have liked to see faster action to improve air quality. But the group agreed to participate in drafting the alternative proposal because it felt a better outcome would be achieved through negotiation, Michel said.

He’s looking forward to the rule having a positive impact on air quality at the Grand Canyon and other pristine areas in the West.

“You need these kinds of national programs because they can look at this comprehensively, rather than one facility at a time,” he said. “If we do this across the West, it will have a meaningful benefit.”

The EPA’s rule goes into effect 60 days after it’s published in the federal register, which is expected to happen within two to three weeks.

energy.bill

Navajo Nation plans tribal energy summit

The Navajo Nation is hugely dependent on coal for revenue.

Tribal officials want to get their government talking about how to diversify the portfolio at an energy summit.

The tribe’s Division of Natural Resources is sponsoring the summit to be held July 23-24 at the Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort east of Flagstaff.

Navajo President Ben Shelly signed off an updated energy policy last October that keeps coal prominently in the tribe’s energy mix. At the time, he said the tribe also must explore clean coal technology and make strides in renewable energy development.

The summit is a chance to discuss the energy policy, along with the history of natural resources on the Navajo Nation, coal markets, carbon capture and the future of renewable energy.

Power Outage Map

Navajo lawmakers examine energy bills

A special session of the Navajo Nation Council focuses on one of the tribe’s most abundant natural resources — coal.

Lawmakers are scheduled to vote on two energy-related bills Wednesday. One would invest money in a company the tribe formed to purchase a coal mine in northwestern New Mexico. The other updates the tribe’s energy policy that includes support for clean coal technology.

Coal and the power plants it feeds make up a significant portion of the tribe’s general fund.

Navajo President Ben Shelly has said that lawmakers’ approval of the energy policy is a prerequisite for him supporting the purchase of the Navajo Mine from BHP Billiton.

The special session takes places in Window Rock and will be streamed live online.

145162589

EPA rule puts Arizona plants on track to upgrade

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had outlined a final plan for upgrades at three Arizona coal-fired power plants.

The agency on Friday followed through with a proposal to partially reject Arizona’s air quality plan. It came up with one of its own to control nitrogen oxide emissions that impair visibility at 18 national parks and wilderness areas.

Instead of low nitrogen-oxide burners, the EPA says the Cholla, Coronado and Apache generating stations must install selective catalytic reduction technology that will keep 22,700 tons of nitrogen oxide per year out of the air.

The state Department of Environmental Quality was quick to denounce the EPA’s decision, saying Arizona has a right to control pollutants within its borders. The department says visibility improvements from more than $500 million in upgrades will be imperceptible.