I was notified of a public hearing regarding the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the proposal of a new dirt burner (a.k.a. coal fired power plant) here in Nevada by the Las Vegas chapter of the Sierra Club, and I attended it last night. My Father-in-Law came with me as he was curious.
This was for the Toquop
plant project, proposed by Sithe Global Power, LLC (Houston), and was hosted by the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM).
Here are the items of interest:
1) This plant is not needed. Las Vegas and its surrounding areas have more than enough power to meet the next 10 - 15 years of growth. It's just that Sithe thinks they can produce the electricity even cheaper than other companies, and they want to break into the Vegas market to compete.
2) The project went through all necessary processes and was approved in 2003 as a natural gas (NG) power production plant. However, the price of NG went up and this made Sithe's business plan non-competitive.
3) To counter the pricing of NG Sithe re-proposed the project as a coal fired plant instead of an NG one last year, and this reset the EIS and other items.
This hearing was held in Las Vegas earlier this week and only had 70 people show up, of which 8 spoke - on public record - against his proposal. About 30 people showed up to the Reno hearing and 5 of us spoke against it. This was a first for me. I've attended a few events in this vein and always just listened.
We were soft-limited to 3 minutes each so I had to move through my notes quickly but here is the gist of what I said:
1) The new proposal emits 3-4 times the environmental pollutants while dropping electrical generation by roughly 40% (NG was planned as 1,100mW while the dirt burner is 750mW).
2) Despite being a superboiler and touted as "clean coal" the plant will still emit 2% of its SO2, 10% of its NOx, 20% of its Mercury, and 80% of its CO2.
3) It will also produce over 5 tons of Uranium and Thorium waste as a byproduct each year. This is over 100x what a nuclear plant will produce for the same amount of electricity.
4) As a superboiler dirt burner the plant will only be 48% efficient.
5) No carbon sequestration is included in the proposal.
6) Senator Reid has already stated he will fight any new coal plants, so for once it's not just the environmentalists waving the red flag.
7) There are many alternatives to both NG and coal plants such as geothermal and wind energy. However, while the State has granted no new geothermal permits since 2005 every NG and coal permit application continues to be rubber stamped.
8) The entire idea of this plant is based on greed rather than need. The same goes for the proposal to switch from an NG plant to a coal fired one.
I had to repeat these things to a court reporter that BLM brought in order to ensure my comments ended up as part of the public record.
Time will tell if we made any impact.