LAS VEGAS (AP) â¿¿ U.S. Sen. Harry Reid on Tuesday called for the closure of a coal-fired power plant outside Las Vegas, saying he expects opposition from NV Energy Inc. but the facility is antiquated and a health risk to American Indians who live nearby.
"There is no clean coal," the Senate Democratic leader declared after meeting with several members of the Moapa Band of Paiutes who live near the Reid Gardner station and a handful of representatives of the Sierra Club and Nevada Conservation League who want the plant to close.
"We have to stop further degradation of the land and air as a result of burning coal," Reid said. "The solution is to close the plant. We want the boilers shut off."
A Republican party spokesman, Darren Littell, accused Reid of wanting to throw 150 people out of work in a state where unemployment tops 12 percent.
Reid said during his National Clean Energy Summit 5.0 at the Bellagio resort that he expects NV Energy, Nevada's dominant electric utility, to fight to keep the 557-megawatt plant running. The plant's first two units started operations in the 1960s, and the third started in the 70s.
NV Energy spokeswoman Jennifer Schuricht released a statement calling the plant 55 miles north of Las Vegas a key component of a diverse group of generating plants "that make sense for our customers and ensure reliability and price stability."
NV Energy also makes electricity at seven natural gas-fired plants, 44 renewable projects and one other coal-fired plant near Battle Mountain in northern Nevada.
The publicly traded company said the Reid Gardner facility provides enough electricity to power 335,000 Nevada households, and the company exceeds state requirements for use of electricity produced by renewable energy sources including solar, wind and geothermal sources.
But the plant will lose a customer next year when the California Department of Water Resources ends a part-ownership contract and quits buying power from Reid Gardner.