Carson City, Nev., June 16, 2012 — The Nevada Division of Water Resources has decided to stop purchasing electricity from a coal-burning power plant in Nevada next year as part of its plan to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions.
For the past thirty years, the department has been holding a lease in the Reid Gardner Power Station in Moapa Valley, Nevada. DWR holds a two-thirds interest in one of four generating units at the plant, situated about an hour north of Las Vegas and owned by NV Energy, a publicly traded utility company.
DWR's State Water Project is the single largest energy consumer in California. Electricity from the plant primarily serves the DWR. The electricity needed to pump water out of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta and over the Tehachapi Mountains accounts for 2 to 3 percent of the total energy demand in California.
DWR is not going to renew its contract at Reid Gardner when it expires in 2013 as part of its Climate Action Plan released by the department. According to the plan in the decade of the 2000s, the State Water Project accounts for emitting an average of 3.2 million metric tons per year of carbon dioxide, one of the gases primarily responsible for causing climate change.
That is equivalent to the emissions of about 600,000 cars. DWR's interest in the Reid Gardner Power Station accounts for about one-fourth of these emissions. The State Water Project generates some of its own hydroelectricity, largely at Oroville Dam. But the extensive 700-mile-long water diversion system remains a net consumer of energy. Andrew said Reid Gardner accounts for 10 to 15 percent of DWR's total energy supply.
They are planning to buy more energy from the California Independent System Operator, which gets more than half its supply from natural gas sources. Though natural gas also contributes carbon dioxide to the atmosphere, it is 45 percent less than coal.
DWR has also partnered with Lodi Energy Center, a new natural-gas fired power plant which is expected to be in operation this summer. It is also pursuing a program to enhance the efficiency of its many water pumps and other systems to cut down the energy demand.
Moreover, it is welcoming renewable power by working with contractors to install solar panels on its properties, including a project planned in Lancaster. They are looking for whatever they can do to increase renewable. Overall, the objective of the plan is to reduce DWR's carbon dioxide emissions 50 percent below 1990 levels by 2020, and 80 percent by 2050. The department's emissions in 1990 were 3.4 million metric tons.