Hard by the Colorado River at Laughlin, Nev., Southern California Edison's controversial Mohave power plant began generating electricity in 1971. Its 500-foot stack throws a giant plume into the desert air as it puts out as much energy as Hoover Dam, lighting up more than a million homes and businesses in Nevada, Southern California and Arizona (HCN, 3/2/98).
Southern California Edison is the
coal-fired power plant's principal operator and the nation's second
largest electric utility based upon its number of customers, 4.2
million, and its assets of some $18 billion. Mohave's other owners
include the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, 20 percent,
Nevada Power, 14 percent, and the federal Salt River Project, 10
The generating station burns 6 million
tons of coal a year, which arrives in a 273-mile pipeline carrying
50 percent water and 50 percent coal. The coal is strip-mined from
Peabody Coal Company's Black Mesa mine in
For the right to mine coal on Navajo
land, Peabody pays annual royalties of $16.3 million to the
Navajos; the company pays $3.2 million to the Hopis for the right
to tap their aquifer for 1 billion gallons of water. In addition,
the Black Mesa mine employs 350 people with an average wage and
benefit package of $55,000 per year.
coal unencumbered by modern pollution controls, except for an
electrostatic precipitator to remove large particulates. Now that
the Navajo station at Page, Ariz., is on the road to achieving 90
percent control of sulfur dioxide, Mohave remains the largest
single source of sulfur dioxide (SO2) emissions in the Southwest
and a major contributor to degraded visibility in the Grand Canyon,
just 50 miles away.
This, though virtually all
other Southwestern utilities and copper-smelting companies have
installed scrubbers and dramatically reduced SO2 emissions. In
addition, the Mohave plant each year emits 44,000 tons of nitrogen
oxides, 18 million tons of global-warming carbon dioxide and 10,000
tons of small particulates that can affect breathing.
Southern California Edison
can be reached at 626/302-2255.
James Bishop Jr.
writes in Sedona, Arizona.