Mesa coal mine set to reopen
By CYNDY COLE
AZ Daily Sun, May 24, 2007
LAUGHLIN - Southern California Edison is giving up its
effort to resuscitate the Mohave Generating Station
after trying for almost two years to revive the 1970s
era plant which provided up to 1,500 megawatts of electricity
to urban residents.
In its 28th monthly report to the California
Public Utilities Commission on the status of MGS, dated
May 22, the Los Angeles-based corporation said, “SCE
has now decided to discontinue its effort ... to sell
Mohave to a new owner or owners who would seek to restart
the plant. SCE is not aware of any plans or interest
on the part of the other Mohave co-owners to further
purse any efforts towards a Mohave restart.”
Written by company attorney Sumner J.
Koch, the report to CPUC Chair Sean Gallagher continued,
“Accordingly SCE and the other co-owners are now winding
down all activities that have been aimed at preserving
and facilitating the possibility of a Mohave plant restart
and are focusing on the future reuse or other disposition
of the Mohave site.”
The property includes approximately
four square-miles of valuable land overlooking Casino
Drive between the Colorado River and the community's
main residential-business area. The tall smokestack
is one of 10 skyscraper-height structures in the town
of almost 9,000 permanent residents.
In addition to valuable land, Edison, Nevada Power Company,
the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the
Phoenix-based Salt River Project also own around $50
million worth of air pollution credits which can be
sold. And MGS used about 16,000 acre-feet a year of
water from the Colorado River through a right which
expires in less than 20 years.
Part of the problem with resurrecting
a plant which a federal environment decree shut down
on Dec. 31, 2005, is that it was the only power plant
in the country which received its coal via a pipeline
carrying a slurry mix of ground coal and water. The
coal came from the Black Mesa Mine, mined by a Peabody
Energy division on the Navajo and Hopi Indian reservations,
and pumped 273 miles.
Peabody had fought for years for a permanent
mining permit from the federal government and was seeking
another water supply to replace its eight deep (more
than 3,000 feet) wells drawing prime water from the
Navajo Aquifer. The tribes' consent to use that water
also ended Dec. 31, 2005.
Edison, as the majority owner of MGS,
needed a signed contract for the water before it could
commit to restart Mohave.
The federal government wrapped everything
together into what it called the Black Mesa Project,
with Edison paying the cost of the environment impact
statement to draw water from the Coconino Aquifer on
the southwestern edge of the Navajo reservation, the
largest in the country.
Part of the study was a new series of
wells and almost 110 miles of new uphill plumbing to
reach the coal mine, along with replacing the worn-out
line to Laughlin.
At last word the project would
have cost $1.1 billion, with about $500 million for
the modern air pollution control equipment and systems
in the Laughlin plant and the rest for the reservation-related