Enviros encouraged over Mohave closure
Special to the Times
– The permanent closure of the Mohave Generating Station
marks the end of an era, but it could also be the beginning
of a new, cleaner one, according to a coalition of environmental
press release issued last week by the Just Transition
Coalition urged the Navajo and Hopi tribes which profited
from the plant’s operation by leasing coal and water
rights, to seek alternatives to replace the lost revenue
– about $38 million annually in royalties, taxes and
California Edison announced June 19 that it has abandoned
efforts to reopen Mohave as a coal-fired power producer.
The plant bought all the output from the Black Mesa
Mine which closed at the end of 2005 when Mohave shut
that negotiations have effectively run into a brick
wall, the Just Transition Plan is the only viable alternative,”
said Andy Bessler, Southwest representative of the Sierra
Club, a coalition member.
Just Transition Plan, which has been promoted by the
coalition without the support of either tribe, calls
for profits from sales of the plant's pollution credits
to be used to offset the economic effects of Mohave’s
closure on Hopi and Navajo people.
to use the money – which could be up to $20 million
a year – would be up to the tribes, but the coalition
has proposed using some of it to build a solar or wind-powered
electric plant. The tribes would earn revenues from
sales of electricity to utilities, as the environmentalists
Edison argued that any money from the sale of pollution
credits would belong to its ratepayers, but the California
Public Utilities Commission last month agreed to have
the funds put in escrow until the Mohave matter was
the CPUC decision neither tribal administration has
warmed up to the environmentalists' plan.
a press release issued June 19, Hopi Tribal Chairman
Ivan Sidney said the tribe would continue negotiation
with the plant’s minority owners and other interested
parties in the hope that Mohave can be reopened. Edison
is the majority owner and as such, acted as the plant
Hopi tribe intends to press forward with the Navajo
Nation, Peabody Coal Company and the Salt River Project
to finalize the few remaining points separating the
parties,” the release reads. Peabody operates the Black
Mesa Mine that slurried coal to the power plant, and
the Salt River Project is the second-largest investor
in the plant at 20 percent.
statement makes no mention of the Just Transition Plan,
which is Sidney's spokeswoman, Bertha Parker, said is
because the plan has never been formally been presented
to the tribe.
Transition Coalition member) Vernon Masayesva has been
on the (tribal) council’s agenda for months and never
appeared,” she said.
statement was forthcoming from Navajo Nation President
Joe Shirley Jr. by press time, but so far the Navajo
Nation Council has not adopted the Just Transition Plan.
is mystified why the tribes are continuing to negotiate
while the plant's operator and major stockholder, Southern
California Edison, has abandoned it.
only thing I can think of is they know something we
don’t, which would be that someone is planning to buy
SoCal Edison’s share,” he said. “But I can't imagine
who would invest in an outdated power plant that needs
billions in upgrades and has to shut down in 20 years
a 1999 settlement, Mohave's owners need to install smokestack
scrubbers worth about $1.1 billion to continue to operate
2026, Nevada users of Colorado River water will lose
a large share of their water rights. That means Mohave,
located in Laughlin, Nev., will no longer be able to
pump the 30,000 acre-feet the plant, which would make
it economically unfeasible to operate, according to
there's the matter of replacing the 4,000 acre-feet
of Navajo-Aquifer water used each year to slurry the
coal from the mine to Mohave. Both tribes have told
Peabody, which owns the slurry pipeline, it needs to
find another source for that water, but the environmental
impact statement has not yet been completed for the
most feasible alternative – the Coconino Aquifer.
that the plant has shut down permanently, the U.S. Bureau
of Reclamation will probably abandon the costly EIS
process, according to Bessler. And there is plenty of
opposition among rural Navajos to pumping the C-Aquifer
far as I can see, the only one who could benefit from
buying that plant would be Peabody itself,” said Bessler.
“That way they could sell coal to themselves.”
whether that is a possibility, Peabody spokeswoman Beth
Sutton said the company “odes not typically comment