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article imageLargest coal-fired power plant in western US may close this year

By Karen Graham     Jan 29, 2017 in Environment
Page - The largest coal-fired power plant in the western part of the U.S, — and one of the largest climate polluters in the nation — may close later this year, striking a symbolic blow to the future of the coal industry.
The Navajo Generating Station (NGS), located on the Navajo Reservation near Page, Arizona, is a 2,250-megawatt coal-fired power plant. It provides electricity for customers in Arizona, Nevada, and California, as well as providing power for pumping Colorado River water for the Central Arizona Project, supplying 1.5 million acre feet of water yearly to central and southern Arizona.
The plant is also the country's third-largest emitter of greenhouse gasses of any power plant in the U.S., behind Southern Co's Scherer Power plant in Juliette, Georgia, ranked at Number 1, and Number 2 ranked Southern Co's James H. Miller, Jr. Power Plant in Quinton, Alabama, according to USA Today.
The plant is owned by Tempe, Arizona-based Salt River Project power and water (SRP), one of the state's largest utilities. Officials at SRP said earlier this month that in the last ten years, efforts have been made to extend the life of the NGS to 2019 when the lease with the Navajo Nation expires.
Coal stockpiles are maintained by a CAT D-10T dozer at the Kayenta Coal Mine.
Coal stockpiles are maintained by a CAT D-10T dozer at the Kayenta Coal Mine.
Peabody Energy, Inc.
But they add that with the rapidly changing economics of the energy sector and falling natural gas prices, this has altered how coal-fired power plants compare to other forms of energy in the country today. And while coal-fired plants have been the workhorses for electricity generation in the nation for years, it has become difficult for coal to compete with LNG and other renewable energy sources.
The NGS employs about 500 people, mostly Navajos, and a Peabody Energy coal mine with 430 workers provides the coal for the NGS. There is now talk of closing the plant as early as this spring, according to
A Navajo environmental group is alleging that SRP officials have talked up the early closure as a way of getting lease concessions from the Navajo Nation. "If any such bluff or blackmail is indeed taking place, it needs to be called out and rejected,” the group said in a statement," according to the Daily-Times.
Coal silo at the end of the 17 mile conveyor. The other end of the conveyor is the Peabody Energy Ka...
Coal silo at the end of the 17 mile conveyor. The other end of the conveyor is the Peabody Energy Kayenta Mine, on Black Mesa. Electric-powered rail cars drive through the base of the silo to be loaded with coal, then travel 75 miles to the Navajo Power Plant near Page.
Center for Land Use and Interpretation
But in related news, on January 27, Peabody Energy filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court a First Amended Joint Plan of Reorganization and the related Disclosure Statement. According to the Disclosure Statement: “The Debtors’ restructuring will be implemented through the Plan. The Restructuring contemplated by the Plan will reduce the Debtors’ debt burden by over $6.6 billion, a necessary step for the Company’s financial health given the volatile industry in which the Company operates."
All this does not bode well for President Trump's plan to revitalize the coal sector, one of his campaign promises, even though a move like this would undermine environmental regulations on reducing greenhouse gasses.
More about navajo generating station, nation's largest, coalfired plant, Peabody energy, operating costs
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