Tuesday, Feb. 10, 2009 | 2:07 a.m.
NV Energy’s announcement Monday that it was postponing for at least 10 years its plans to build a coal-fired power plant near Ely was as welcome as it was inevitable.
We have opposed the plant, known as the Ely Energy Center, since plans for it were announced in 2006. Nevada should be moving forward with renewable energy, not moving backward with coal, whose ceaseless, voluminous emissions are unhealthy to all forms of life.
“The company will not move forward with construction of the coal plant until the technologies that will capture and store greenhouse gasses are commercially feasible,” a statement on NV Energy’s Web site said.
That statement confirms that so-called “clean coal” does not exist, despite promotions of the concept in national advertising.
Although new coal plants emit fewer pollutants than ones built two or three decades ago, they are still dirty. Proof of that is contained in the Ely Energy Center’s draft environmental impact statement, which says emissions of greenhouse gases and various unhealthy chemicals and particulates would amount to millions of tons per year.
So it is welcome that Nevada will be spared this source of smog, haze and unhealthy air and water for the next decade — and probably longer. That is because Congress, likely this year, will pass regulations that have been inevitable for some time.
The regulations will require that coal plants vastly reduce the noxious emissions that have been allowed to pollute our cities, countrysides and waterways, contributing to global warming and causing serious health problems. The cost of bringing about such reductions will almost certainly steer power companies away from building coal plants.
It was the prospect of such regulations that led NV Energy to postpone plans for the Ely Energy Center.
The short-term alternative in Nevada, which NV Energy is pursuing, is more plants fired by natural gas, which is a bit cleaner. The ultimate solution, which NV Energy, to its credit, says it is also pursuing, lies in developing this state’s vast potential for renewable energy.