While some states are jettisoning their coal-fired plants, a large coal-powered electric generator in Arizona that supplies power to Los Angeles is getting new life and will remain running through 2044, federal officials said.
The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP) owns 21.2 percent of the plant at Page, AZ, described by the federal government as the largest coal-fired power plant in the Western United States. Arizona’s Salt River Project operates the plant, which runs on coal from the Navajo Indian Reservation and water from the Colorado River.
Meanwhile, the Navajo Generating Station was going to close one of its three 750-megawatt coal-burning units by 2020, and a large solar power plant will go up near Phoenix that will replace some of the power coming from the plant, the U.S. Department of Reclamation said.
In March, the DWP board voted to sell the city’s one-fifth stake in the Navajo Generating Station, which produces 477-megawatts of coal-fired power for the Los Angeles utility. Negotiations on the sale were going to occur this summer, but it remains unclear if the federal announcement would affect the plan.
The EPA had demanded the plant install catalytic scrubbers to reduce the large amount of soot and carbon dioxide emitted by the plant, which it blames for one-third of the smog fouling the Grand Canyon and other national parks in the Four Corners area. The plant’s operators have said the scrubbers would be so expensive that it would force the plant’s closure.
That panicked the 1,000 workers in Page, mostly Navajo Indians, and leaders of the adjacent Navajo reservation, where the plant mines its coal near Kayenta, AZ.
This move calls for payment of $5 million for community improvements near the mine and power plant, according to the Bureau of Reclamation.
The plan to replace coal power with solar energy will reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 11.3 metric tons each year, or 3 percent annually, the federal government said.
Meanwhile, the DWP board also agreed to phase out its purchases of coal power from the 1,800-megawatt Intermountain Power Plant in Utah, approving a contract that involves working with the facility’s 23 public owners to construct a smaller natural gas power plant that adheres to California’s stricter emissions standards.