What's 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 economy.

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 was removed.




Reprinted as an historical reference document under the Fair Use doctrine of international copyright law. http://www4.law.cornell.edu/uscode/17/107.html