next for MGS?
By Jim Maniaci, Mohave
Daily Times, June 26, 2007
LAUGHLIN - The reaction of the Laughlin
Chamber of Commerce typifies what local residents are
facing with Southern California Edison's recent announcement
that it will no longer attempt to restart the Mohave
Generating Station as an electric generator.
The chamber's executive director, Janet
Medina, indicated that at this point not enough is known
about the options to comment.
The Laughlin Town Manager's Office said
it interpreted Edison's announcement to mean Edison
is performing a feasibility study for all possible uses
of the site.
The plant sits on four square miles
of valuable real estate in the middle of Laughlin. It
has water rights for up to 19,000 acre feet a year of
Colorado River water until 2026, along with what environmental
groups estimate to be $50 million in air pollution credits
it can sell at approximately $1,000 per ton. There is
a related battle over who should get that money; the
case is before the California Public Utilities Commission.
Gil Alexander of Edison's press office
in the Los Angeles suburb of Rosemead said the day after
the May 22 notice to the chairman of the California
Public Utilities Commission, “Southern California Edison
has been working for several months to secure a buyer
for its interest in the Mohave Generating Station. During
the past several days, the utility has concluded it
is no longer prudent to continue this effort.”
He added, “Our vigorous effort to locate
a buyer for our interest in Mohave, one who could return
the plant to service, has proven unsuccessful. Therefore
we are no longer pursuing efforts to sell the plant
and are reviewing options for final decomissioning of
the plant and site. The Mohave owners will be discussing
various options for the plant site and property.”
Edison has 56 percent, or 885 megawatts
of its 1,580 megawatt-capacity; with Salt River Project
(Phoenix) owning 20 percent, or 316 megawatts. Nevada
Power Company's share is 14 percent, or 221 megawatts;
and the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power gets
the remaining 10 percent, or 158 megawatts.
In answer to questions, Alexander said
the owners had not determined how many of the present
60 employees would remain on the job, either directly
for the plant or with the transmission and distribution
switchyard. At its peak he said approximately 300 people
worked at MGS.
In the community, these were considered
the highest-paying jobs in the Tri-state river cities
The SCE press officer said the
length of time to decommission the plant would depend
upon which final option the owners select.
SCE spent months trying to arrange for the plant's shutdown
to be as short as possible, but in June 2006 announced
it would not pursue restarting MGS. At the same time,
Nevada Power and Los Angeles Water and Power announced
they would not undertake any effort to reopen the plant,
which began producing electricity for urban Los Angeles,
Phoenix and Las Vegas in 1971.
SRP announced Sept. 26, 2006, it would
seek new partners but gave up on Feb. 6, 2007, citing
lack of time to obtain the many needed approvals from
regulatory agencies in order to restart the plant in
2011. The plant's 35-year operating life would have
expired in 2006.
Alexander said SCE quit producing electricity
at the two-unit plan on Dec. 31, 2005, after more than
34 years of operation.
“The owners had been committed to investing
more than $1.1 billion in environmental upgrades they
had agreed to make by that date, but were prevented
from doing so because they were asked to discontinue
using an essential plant water source, called the N-Aquifer,
as of the same date. The owners had been searching for
a new water source, a process that continued after the
plant ceased to operate, in an effort to return it to
service,” he said.
According to the Grand Canyon Trust,
the averages in 2002 and 2003 showed the plant produced
19,201 tons a year of nitrogen oxides, 39,099 tons per
year of sulfur dioxide, 1,924 tons/year of particulate
matter and 9,864,480 tons each year of carbon dioxide.
If operating at full capacity, MGS burned 18,240 tons
of coal a day.
The Trust and Sierra Club filed a federal
suit in Las Vegas on Feb. 19, 1998, being joined on
Feb. 4, 1999, by the National Parks and Conservation
Association as a plaintiff. The Dec., 15, 1999, decree
gave Edison six years to put improvements into operation.
At last report the total price came to approximately
$1.1 billion, with less than half of that for the actual
air pollution control upgrades.
Because MGS was the only power plant
in the country receiving its coal supply via a 273-mile
pipeline - the coal was ground up and mixed with water
at the Black Mesa Mine on the Navajo Reservation - Edison
had to have a signed coal supply contract with Peabody
Energy. This, in turn, depended upon a new water source,
the Coconino or “C” Aquifer, with an additional 108 miles
of pipes and pumps along with replacing the worn-out pipeline.
The new line would have included 6,000 acre-feet of water
a year for the mine and plant.
Peabody was using about 4,500
acre-feet of water a year for its two reservation mines
(the larger Kayenta Mine supplied the Navajo Generating
Station on the south shore of Lake Powell), so most
of that also was available to Mohave after the coal