Study to Look at Range of Substitutes for Mohave Plant

By Published On: March 28, 2005

Replacements for Southern California Edison?s coal-fired Mohave plant near Four Corners with a coal gasification facility, a natural gas?fired facility, renewables technologies, and/or energy efficiency will be assessed by an independent analyst, according to the utility?s plan filed with the California Public Utilities Commission March 21. The proposal was required by the commission. The study, estimated to cost up to $1.5 million, must include the impact of the alternatives on the Hopi Tribe and the Navajo Nation, which derive substantial income from the polluting plant. Edison, which owns 56 percent of the 1,580 MW plant, is required to invest $1.1 billion in pollution-control technology in order to keep it running. However, even if that is invested, the utility has yet to resolve contentious water and coal issues. The coal that fuels the plant comes from the Peabody Mine 273 miles away. It is turned into a slurry for transportation. That process consumes huge quantities of water from the reservation. The coal and water leases expire at the end of this year. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and Peabody asked for some changes to the study Edison proposed. NRDC wanted assurances that the firm chosen to do the cost-benefit analysis not be able to develop an option that it could later financially benefit from later. ?It is important that the work be robust and unbiased,? said Jody London, representing NRDC. Peabody insisted that the assessment focus on ?resources that directly benefit the two tribes? and that it not be so broad that the options are not sufficiently studied, failing to provide ?meaningful information? to the CPUC, stated Peter Glaser, representing Peabody. The study is to include the costs, technical feasibility, and fuel, water, and land requirements of the different options. Alternatives that are to be put to a cost-benefit test include:<ul><li>Coal gasification facility with carbon sequestration.</li> <li>Coal gasification without carbon sequestration.</li> <li>Solar facilities between 500 MW and 1,000 MW, on and off the Hopi and Navajo reservations.</li> <li>Wind farms and other renewables facilities on and off the reservations.</li> <li>A natural gas?powered combined-cycled plant.</li> <li>Energy-efficiency potential in and outside California.</li></ul> A draft study is expected to be released August 31 of this year and finalized a month later. <i>(CPUC docket D04-12-016)</i>

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