Pandodyssey™ Panda Blog

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Friday, July 27, 2007

i feel the need, the need for Reid

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid from Nevada sent a letter to the heads of four coal companies, urging them not follow through on plans to build new coal facilities in the eastern part of his state.

Reid is taking a green stance on behalf of Nevada and says he will oppose the construction of any new coal plant that does not capture and permanently store their greenhouse gas emissions. Senator Reid also opposes nuclear power as an energy source for Nevada, and he is against the construction of a nuclear waste storage facility within the state's borders. The Senator prefers that the state of Nevada look to and invest in renewable energy sources for its growing consumption needs.

The coal companies - Sierra Pacific Resources, LS Power Group, Dynegy, Inc., and Sithe Global Power LLC - obviously all disagree with the Senator. They claim that rapid expansion and growth in the state have caused a dire need for energy and, despite the Senator's letter, all four companies plan to continue with construction. Business as usual.

This is the problem with energy corporations, especially ones that aren't diversifying into renewable sources and are accordingly and rightfully, scared $hitless. Why can't they go ahead and build their dirty coal burning plants but modify the plans to capture and contain their greenhouse gases, and bring their companies into the 21st century? I admire the Senator's efforts, but it's going to take much more than a letter to persuade these mesozoic dinosaurs to give up some profit to make a change for the better.

Of the four coal companies at issue:
Sierra Pacific Resources - touts the cleanliness and efficiency of its newest coal burning plants but has zero renewable energy projects underway;
LS Power Group - cites 1 wind project currently "under development" (out of 24 total projects);
Dynegy, Inc. - currently operates 32 power facilities, none of which utilizes renewable sources, and lists zero renewable energy projects on their website. Astonishingly, a site search of the word "renewable" brought up zero results;
Sithe Global Power, LLC - currently has seven energy projects underway worldwide, none of which involve renewable energy. Sithe LLC also has a nice long pat-themselves-on-the-back page regarding their "cooperation" with the Navajo Nation and in mining Navajo land on one of their projects. Sithe LLC cites that the estimated annual benefit to the Navajo Nation will exceed $50 million. On the surface, it sounds like a considerable sum of money, but I want to know how much Sithe LLC estimates its own "annual benefit" will be?

Some stats:
70% of Nevada's electricity comes from natural gas powered plants and 13% from coal burning plants. In the US, 50% of the country's electricity comes from coal fired plants, 20% from nuclear energy, and 18% from natural gas fired plants.

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