Senator Harry Reid, who once famously said coal makes us sick, is sick of coal.
Specifically, he’s sick of the coal-fired Reid Gardner power plant, located in Moapa. And on Tuesday, headlining his fifth annual National Clean Energy Summit, he called on NV Energy to close the plant for the sake of nearby residents.
“This soot, and the dangerous particulates inside it, are literally killing the Paiutes,” said Reid. (The nearby Moapa Band of Paiute Indians have reported illnesses and even deaths, allegedly caused by toxic ash thrown off by the Reid Gardner plant.)
“That’s why it’s time to close the dirty relic, Reid Gardner,” Reid said. “For NV Energy, the first steps should be turning out the lights at Reid Gardner, and turning them out forever.”
Later, at a news conference with members of the tribe, the Sierra Club and others, Reid said he would not accept a phased shutdown of the plant. “The solution is to close the plant,” he said flatly. “We want all the boilers shut off.”
In its stead, Reid offered the chance to build a solar plant on Paiute land that would replace the energy lost by closing Reid Gardner.
But NV Energy isn’t buying new solar energy, having met and exceeded its state-mandated quota for green energy. According to the company, solar power costs 11 to 13 cents per kilowatt hour, higher than coal or natural gas, which comes in at 3 to 5 cents per kilowatt hour.
“We have a responsibility to the ratepayers to provide reasonable prices,” says Rob Stillwell, spokesman for NV Energy. “It’s not a surprise as to where he [Reid] stands,” Stillwell added. “It [the speech] was not a surprise.”