It has always been known the mine closure is not permanent. More interesting information to note while Peabody Coal waits to hear the verdict on its "life of mine" lease at Black Mesa. Interesting that in a recent Gallup Independent article Lorenzo Bedonie is quoted as saying, "But we know for a fact that Black Mesa mine may never reopen," he said, receiving applause from the audience. "I think that is something that we really need to know before we can really claim that this is only temporary."
   
Edison Moves to Reopen Big Desert Power Plant

The utility was forced to shut down the Mohave generating station in
Nevada because of pollution issues.
By Marc Lifsher, Times Staff Writer
March 28, 2006

Southern California Edison Co. and two Indian tribes have taken a tentative step toward reopening the giant Mohave power plant in Nevada that was shut down due to pollution.

Before being taken off line in January, the coal-fired plant was a major source of electricity for Southern California.

Under a proposed agreement with Edison, the Navajo nation and the Hopi tribe of northern Arizona would supply the 1,585-megawatt plant in Laughlin, Nev., with water from tribal lands and coal from the Black Mesa mine, which is owned by the tribes and operated by Peabody Energy Corp. In return, Edison and its partners in the Mohave power plant would make a series of payments to the tribes.

The proposal faces several major hurdles, including winning the endorsement of the two tribal councils, Congress, the Interior Department, Edison's Mohave partners and the California Public Utilities Commission.

What's more, Edison would need to install about $1 billion worth of pollution-control equipment to satisfy a 1999 consent decree requiring the utility to reduce sulfur dioxide emissions from the plant, which was one of the biggest sources of air pollution in the Southwest and contributed to the haze that obscures views at Grand Canyon National Park.

The most controversial part of the proposed deal would allow Peabody to continue to draw water from the Navajo Aquifer, which the Indians rely on for drinking, farming and livestock. The water would be used at the Black Mesa mine to transport pulverized coal through a 273-mile pipeline to the power plant.

The proposed agreement, outlined in a March 7 memo and not yet binding on the parties, also would require the tribes, Edison and the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to cooperate in the development of a new water source for the coal pipeline.

Allowing Peabody to continue using water from the aquifer could endanger a precious resource in the parched desert region, said David Beckman, a senior attorney in Los Angeles for the Natural Resources Defense Council. Last week, his group issued a report that it said contradicted government findings that Peabody's pumping did not exceed legal limits.

"Peabody has long claimed it intended to cease pumping from the [Navajo] aquifer, but this impending deal puts the lie to that claim," Beckman said.

Peabody spokeswoman Beth Sutton disputed the council's report: "The Navajo Aquifer remains healthy and robust."

Edison, the tribes and Peabody all declined to comment on the proposed agreement, which was first reported by the Gallup, N.M., Independent.

Mohave produced about 7% of Southern California's electricity before being mothballed New Year's Day after Edison failed to comply with the 1999 consent decree, which settled a lawsuit brought against the plant's owners by a coalition of environmental groups.

Bill Hedden, executive director of the Grand Canyon Trust, which spearheaded the lawsuit against Edison, said he was waiting to see whether the parties in the coal and water negotiations could overcome "a million complications" before dealing with Mohave's air pollution problems.

The closure of the power plant was a blow to the local tribal economies. The plant was the only customer for coal from the Black Mesa mine, and 600 high-paying jobs — mostly filled by Navajos — were eliminated when the Mohave plant closed. In addition, the Navajo and Hopi governments lost the millions of dollars they received each year in royalty payments from the mine.

Edison, a unit of Rosemead-based Edison International, owns 56% of the Mohave plant and was its operator. The remaining ownership is divided among three partners, including the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.

Originally found in the Los Angeles Times 28 March 2006

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Plant's Restart Not Near

Edison drops a bid to quickly reopen a giant generating station that supplies electricity to Southern California.
By Marc Lifsher
Times Staff Writer

March 31, 2006

Southern California Edison Co. said Thursday it had given up an effort to quickly restart its giant Mohave power plant, which was shut down Jan. 1 for failing to comply with pollution standards.

The utility had hoped to cut a deal with environmentalists to put the coal-fired power plant back on line within the next few months. Located in Laughlin, Nev., the plant had been a cheap source of electricity for Southern California for 36 years.

But Edison, which holds a 56% controlling interest in Mohave, said in a statement that it had "reluctantly concluded" that it faced "too much uncertainty to warrant continued aggressive effort" to reopen the plant in the near future.

Edison said it continued to negotiate with two northern Arizona Indian tribes and a mining company about coal and water supplies for the generating station. Peabody Energy Corp., which mines the Indian land, uses the water to push pulverized coal through a 273-mile pipeline to Mohave.

Once an agreement is reached, the utility would begin the process of installing $1.1 billion in pollution equipment in the hope of restarting the plant by 2010.

The high-tech scrubbers are needed to comply with a 1999 legal settlement of a lawsuit brought by the Grand Canyon Trust and two other environmental organizations under the U.S. Clean Air Act. The plant, which produced about 7% of Southern California's electricity before being mothballed, was one of the biggest sources of sulfur dioxide emissions in the West. It also created haze that obscured views at Grand Canyon National Park.

Edison, a unit of Rosemead-based Edison International, also said it would be forced to lay off 82 of Mohave's 306 employees by July 1.

The environmental groups said Edison approached them in late December and early January about reaching an interim agreement that would allow the plant to keep running without pollution controls.

"They, in fact, floated a proposal, but it was a nonstarter," said Bill Hedden, executive director of the Grand Canyon Trust.

The environmentalists told Edison to sort out the water supply issues with the Navajo Nation and the Hopi tribe before trying to even temporarily waive the federal court consent decree on pollution controls, Hedden said.

Since then, "they have not come back with any stronger proposal," he said. Edison declined to elaborate on its written statement.

A continued shutdown of Mohave should not affect Southern California's ability to obtain sufficient electricity, even if hotter-than-normal temperatures stress the region's power grid this summer, said Joseph Desmond, chairman of the California Energy Commission.

"We assumed it would not be available," he said.

originally found in the Los Angeles Times

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Mohave won't be online for about 4 years, Edison says

By Kathy Helms-Diné Bureau

WINDOW ROCK — Mohave Generating Station will not resume operating for approximately four years and a Black Mesa Mine standstill agreement set to expire March 31, 2006, has not been renewed, Southern California Edison announced Wednesday.

In its monthly status report on Mohave to California Public Utilities Commission, SCE said, "because of the many uncertainties that remain unresolved, SCE has reluctantly concluded that further aggressive pursuit of interim operations at this time is not warranted."

SCE said it has explored extensively the possibilities for modifying the Mohave Consent Decree and Mohave's air quality permit provisions so Mohave could resume operating on an interim basis prior to installing $1.1 billion in pollution control equipment called for in a 1999 consent decree.

SCE said Mohave co-owners, the Hopi Tribe, the Navajo Nation and Peabody Western Coal Co. continued their negotiations during the month to resolve all remaining water-related issues, facilitated by a neutral third party.

Mohave co-owners and Peabody also continued to negotiate a new coal supply agreement for Mohave, "and further negotiations are planned," SCE said. All negotiations are confidential.

Navajo Nation Attorney General Louis Denetsosie said Friday that the parties have never announced that they were going to end negotiations, and though the mediation team has not scheduled any more meetings, "I think that is the expectation, that people are going to talk about it."

Denetsosie said the latest information he had was SCE's March 29 report filed with CPUC.

"All they said was that most likely the date they're looking at is 2009 or 2010. What it says in that report is there are too many complications of trying to get a reopening immediately. It takes too many parties to agree to that. That would involve the environmentalists."

A reduction in force has been initiated which will reduce Mohave's work force of just over 300 to no more than 224 employees by July 1. "SCE will continue to assess the Mohave staffing level, and the staffing level may be adjusted further as circumstances warrant."

Reports due

The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation which would control operations of the C-Aquifer pipeline, according to a confidential negotiating document, expects to complete its final report on the C-Aquifer study in April. The BOR report will be based on USGS drilling and test pumping of the proposed C-Aquifer well-field area performed in 2005, as well as two 2005 C-Aquifer groundwater modeling studies.

Depending on study results, lesser quality C-Aquifer water could be used to slurry coal. The Office of Surface Mining expects to issue a draft environmental impact statement for public comment by June.

A March report by the Natural Resources Defense Council says the high-quality Navajo Aquifer now used by Peabody is in decline and industrial pumping already has done damage. Peabody disagrees.

NRDC said Peabody's bid to increase its water use by 50 percent at Black Mesa Mine through "life of mine" access to the N-Aquifer threatens the main source of drinking water for many Navajo and Hopi people. NRDC said new data contradict the government's claims that Peabody's groundwater pumping is within legal limits established to protect Navajo and Hopi water supplies.

Until late 2005, Peabody withdrew more than a billion gallons of drinking water per year to produce coal slurry and transport it through 273 miles of pipeline to Mohave Generating Station.

Despite Mohave being Black Mesa Mine's only customer and Peabody ceasing operations at the mine, OSM is proceeding with Peabody's application for a "life of mine" permit that would increase its water usage over the next 20 years to more than 6,000 acre-feet per year, about 50 percent more than it has used historically.

OSM's draft environmental impact statement for Peabody's application is due out this month.

Peabody and BHP Billiton are part of the FutureGen Industrial Alliance partnering with the U.S. Department of Energy to design, construct and operate the world's first coal-fueled zero-emissions power plant which is expected to be in operation by 2012.

Just transition

Roger Clark of Grand Canyon Trust said the organization was informed Thursday that an administrative law judge in the Edison rate case had made a "significant, unprecedented move to set aside Edison's share of sulfur allowances to be considered for disbursal as requested by the Just Transition Coalition" in their motion filed Jan. 11.

A hearing in the rate case is set for Tuesday. "We'll see if Edison objects to that decision, and if they do, our attorney will be there to rebut the objection," Clark said.

A full vote of the commission on the rate case is set for April 13, which will include Grand Canyon Trust's motion.

"Edison is asserting jurisdiction over those sulfur allowances on behalf of the California ratepayers and how we proposed that the moneys might be disbursed is probably going to be tinkered with," Clark said.

"But at minimum we'd love to see some sort of requirement that the equivalent of the value of those allowances get reinvested with the tribes in some of the wind projects that they're working on now.

"It's kind of like Robin Hood money robbing from a dirty power plant to invest in a clean power plant and to get the tribes in as equity owners, not just as leasees," he said.

originally found in the Gallup Independent 1 April 2006

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Mohave plant's restart delayed

PHOENIX -- Southern California Edison has abandoned an effort to rapidly restart the coal-fired Mohave Generating Station in Laughlin, Nev. after failing to cut a new deal with environmentalists.

As a result, 82 workers will lose their jobs by July 1, and most of the remaining 225 workers will be transferred or laid off within a year, an Edison spokesman said. Only a small cadre of Edison caretakers will remain on the site.

The plant will likely be closed until at least 2009, the soonest Edison can complete about $1.1 billion in pollution-control and other upgrades needed to meet terms of a Clean Air Act lawsuit it settled with environmental groups in 1999.

The upgrade still is contingent on the company's coal supplier, Peabody Energy Corp. and the Navajo and Hopi Indian tribes, securing a new water supply needed to move the coal in a 273-mile slurry pipeline from the Black Mesa Mine to the plant.

Edison said it won't apply to regulators for permission to spend the money until the water and coal supply issues are resolved.

The plant contributes about $300 million per year to the economy in Nevada and Arizona through direct employment, mining and pipeline activity, according to a 2002 University of Nevada-Reno study.

In addition to the power plant crews, another 260 people worked at the northern Arizona mine and 52 in pipeline operations. Operations at Black Mesa ceased on Dec. 31 and most of the workers were laid off or took retirement.

Edison spokesman Steven Conroy said Saturday that the company, which controls 56 percent of the facility, has filed papers with the California Public Utilities Commission telling them of the aborted restart plan.

Other partners in the plant include the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, 10 percent, Nevada Power, 14 percent and Arizona's Salt River Project, 20 percent.

Edison had asked the CPUC for permission to charge customers the cost of "aggressively" trying to modify 1999 lawsuit settlement.

But a company statement said it "reluctantly concluded" that there was "too much uncertainty to warrant continued aggressive effort" to reopen the plant.

The plant, completed in 1971, doesn't have modern pollution control devices like scrubbers to cut down on smoke and sulfur dioxide emissions. The Mohave site is considered one of the most polluting in the west. Edison agreed to add the modern the pollution controls in the legal settlement.

The director of one of the environmental groups that sued said Edison approached them in late December trying to reach a deal allowing the plant to keep running without pollution controls.

"They, in fact, floated a proposal, but it was a nonstarter," said Bill Hedden, executive director of the Grand Canyon Trust.

originally found in the Arizona Daily Sun 2 April 2006

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