Harry Reid takes aim at NV Energy during National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas

Senate Majority leader Harry Reid gives opening remarks during the National Clean Energy Summit 5.0 at the Bellagio Tuesday, August 7, 2012.

2012 National Clean Energy Summit

Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy, speaks as U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, left, and Senate Majority leader Harry Reid look on during a news conference at the National Clean Energy Summit 5.0 at the Bellagio Tuesday, August 7, 2012. Officials announced that American wind power has reached a 50-gigawatt milestone, in part due to the Spring Valley wind farm near Ely, Nevada. Launch slideshow »

Reid-Gardner Generating Plant

Reid Gardner Station, a coal fired power plant in Moapa, is shown on Friday, Dec. 7, 2007. Sierra Pacific was fined a million dollars and required to install $85 million worth of new pollution control technology at the plant. Launch slideshow »

Kicking off the fifth annual National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas, Sen. Harry Reid on Tuesday took aim at the state’s primary electricity provider, NV Energy.

During his opening remarks at the Bellagio, the Nevada Democrat criticized coal plants and said it’s “time to close the dirty relic we’ve built.” He acknowledged that closing one plant would not solve all energy problems, but for NV Energy, “the first step should be turn out the lights on Reid Gardner, and turn them out forever.”

The Senate majority leader was referring to NV Energy’s Reid Gardner Generating Station near Moapa, northeast of Las Vegas. The coal-fueled, steam-electric generating plant was built in the 1960s, though NV Energy says it has undergone “extensive technology improvements and is among the cleanest coal-burning facilities in the nation.”

As Reid sees it: “There is no clean coal. There’s 'cleaner' coal, but there is no clean coal," he said Tuesday.

Reid, who has no affiliation with the Reid Gardner plant, spoke with reporters about his speech and was joined by environmental activists and members of the Moapa Paiutes. Many people who live near the plant have respiratory problems, tribal chairman William Anderson said, adding that some people live as close as 300 yards from the plant, though he lives about 1.5 miles away.

"I try to stay as far away as I can," he said.

Jennifer Schuricht, a spokeswoman for Las Vegas-based NV Energy, said the company operates Reid Gardner "in the best interests of our customers, in compliance with all federal and state laws, and in an environmentally responsible manner."

She also said the company recently added technology "to capture 99.9 percent of particulate emissions." Moreover, NV Energy's high-efficiency scrubbing systems help the plant "consistently rank" among the top 10 percent of plants nationwide for low sulfur emissions, she said.

Meanwhile, activists held a rally outside the Bellagio on Tuesday calling for NV Energy to stop using coal and push further into clean energy.

The Sierra Club organized the rally. The environmental advocacy group submitted a report to the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada in June that said it would cost less to shutter Reid Gardner next year instead of running it for another decade.

According to the organization, NV Energy could save $59 million of operating costs if the company retired all four units of the plant in 2013, rather than continuing to operate it until 2023.

Speakers scheduled at the all-day summit include former President Bill Clinton, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and Elon Musk, CEO of electric auto maker Tesla Motors. The event is hosted by Reid, MGM Resorts International, UNLV and others.

The summit comes one day after federal officials, at a press conference in Las Vegas, announced a $105 million loan guarantee for Pleasanton, Calif.-based Fulcrum BioEnergy to help finance the development of a plant near Reno that would turn garbage into biofuel. The plant is expected to create some 430 jobs during construction and 53 permanent jobs.

When operational, it will convert 147,000 tons of processed, municipal solid waste into more than 10 million gallons of ethanol each year. It will use a pressurization process that does not involve incineration.

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  1. How much stock does Harry hold in NV Energy? How much does he stand to gain when they raise the rates to pay for "going green" (again!)

    I would like to think that Harry's only motivation is for the good of the planet, but...

  2. This should be renamed the National Clean Energy Brainwashing and BS Summit.

  3. "Green" power sure sounds attractive, but its major problem is that it is intermittent. Solar power is non-existent when the sun doesn't shine, like say, for about half the 24 hour day. Wind power is no power when the wind doesn't blow, or doesn't blow hard enough.

    If you're advocating for green power you have to accept one of two alternatives. One is that you live with partial power - when there is no sun or wind you have no electrical power. Since we're in the middle of an excessive heat warning today this should be apparent to all as not a solution.

    The other alternative is that you back up your green power with more reliable sources of power. Now we're back to a combination of "green" and fossil fuels, and since the green power is unreliable, fossil still needs to be our primary source of power. That means having "green" power sources will only add more cost to the process of producing electrical power.

    Most people will see the wisdom of having a consistent source of power - A/C for home and office, power to run our industries, electronics, refrigeration, etc. Green power needs to be a consistent source if it is to be relied upon. It's not now.

  4. Storage of excess green energy is being worked on. In the not so distant future, the problem of "intermittent" green energy may not be an issue.

    http://www.triplepundit.com/2012/04/exce...

    The big issue may be the profits of energy companies.

    Personally, I would like to see as much independence for individual households as possible, in order to free everyone from the manipulation of monopolies and the financial markets.

  5. Maybe if Harry The Hater released his tax records, we would see how much money he has "invested" in NV Energy and green energy companies....