NV Energy, the state’s largest utility, is building a $1.3 billion coal-fired power plant in northern Nevada, a move that has environmentalists concerned about its impact on the region’s climate change efforts.
Nevadans for Clean Energy, a coalition of more than 100 environmental groups, filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Nevada seeking to block the project and prevent the utility from operating without a permit.
In response, NV Energy says it is moving forward with a new, 250 megawatt plant to be located in the same region that it hopes will generate enough electricity to power about a quarter of the state.
NV Energy’s new coal-powered plant is scheduled to be complete in 2021, and will be operated by the utility as an independent company.
NV Power, NV’s largest power utility, announced plans to build a 200 megawad coal-burning plant in the town of Blythe last year, a project that the utility says will generate energy at a cost of $2.5 billion to $3 billion per year.
But environmental groups say the new plant will destroy the forests and wetlands that make up the Bly the Basin ecosystem and destroy the region as a whole.
Nevads for Clean Greenies, an environmental group, said it has submitted environmental impact reports for several other coal plants in Nevada, including two in the Las Vegas area.
Nevdans for Green Energy, an industry group that supports clean energy, also is seeking a permit for the BLY the Basin coal-fueled power plant, according to a statement.
NVEnergy officials declined to comment.
A spokesman for NV Energy declined to answer questions about whether the plant will be able to produce enough electricity in the area for the region to be self-sufficient.
NVPower spokesperson Jeff Sorensen said in a statement that NV Energy is taking the best possible steps to ensure the safety of our employees and the community.
“We are working with the federal government to address environmental issues and ensure the facility can continue to operate safely,” Sorenesen said.
NVenergy, which has a $9 billion debt rating, has been struggling to balance its books in recent years, as its debt to its customers, investors, and taxpayers has climbed to more than $50 billion.
The utility’s debt load has forced it to cut staff and cut back on its environmental programs, according a report by the Center for Public Integrity.
A recent analysis by the New York Times found that NVEnergy’s carbon emissions are “at or near the national average.”