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Coal Skips Major Debate Today in Nevada

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009   

Las Vegas, NV – As 2009 began, there were three coal-fired power plants proposed for Nevada: the Ely Energy Center, the Toqoup plant, and the White Pine Energy Station. Today, however, it looks as though none of them may be built.

A hearing on the White Pine project set for Tuesday was postponed, and construction of the plant has been put on indefinite hold. The developer says current economic conditions led to the decision. Emily Rhodenbauch, conservation organizer for the Sierra Club agrees, the recession has played a major role.

"I think the economy is one of the biggest factors. We're seeing the price of coal increase dramatically, and we are seeing more and more market for renewable energy — meaning that the price has come down and it's easier and better to put on-line."

The company also cited increasing regulatory uncertainties in making its decision, but Rhodenbauch expects the Public Utilities Commission will stick to renewable energy plans. More federal dollars flowing in the direction of "green" energy projects would mean less market for coal in Nevada, as well as more work in renewable energy industries - an estimated 15,000 new jobs, according to Rhodenbauch.

"State legislators are looking at stimulus money that's going to come into the state to support clean, renewable jobs. It's not going to come in to support any coal plants. So, with that in mind, we've got to focus and get trained, and put Nevadans to work."

Two companies have shelved plans to build coal-fired plants in the last 30 days. Both say they want to build transmission lines, however, which will be in great demand as new sources of renewable energy come on-line. That leaves only one proposed coal plant, Toqoup, still on the drawing board, although it lacks the necessary water rights. A company spokepserson said Tuesday that they have reacquired options for water rights, and he contends construction will go forward, next year.



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