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April 16, 2014

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Power plant developer will use natural gas instead of coal

The developer of a planned coal fired power plant in Mesquite has announced it is formally withdrawing its application with the Bureau of Land Management and is reverting to an earlier plan for a natural gas fired power plant on the site.

Sithe Global is now planning to build a 700 megawatt natural gas fired power plant, called the Toquop Energy Project, near Mesquite. The plans for the natural gas plant were approved by the BLM in 2003. The company is planning to amend the original natural gas plant plans to incorporate up to 100 megawatts of solar photovoltaic power at the site. That will require a new BLM evaluation of the project.

The Toquop power plant project is expected to break ground next year and will employ about 1,000 workers during the three-year construction phase.

The solar plant should be operational by 2012 and the natural gas plant is expected to be completed in 2015.

Sen. Harry Reid, who has encouraged the company to switch to natural gas with for the past year, said this move will be a cleaner option for Nevada.

Natural gas plants release about 60 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than coal plants, Reid said. He also said the switch from American coal to American natural gas will help free the country from its dependence on foreign oil.

"Natural gas is a bridge to secure clean energy future," Reid said.

The company hopes to sell the electricity to NV Energy and has had some preliminary discussions with the utility but is not close to signing a power purchase agreement, the company said.

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