California’s Coal Shadow Continues to Lighten Up – So Long, Reid Gardner

EDF first highlighted California’s coal shadow, which is the impact of coal-produced power sold into the state, in this 2005 report. At that time, the global warming pollution emanating from these out-of-state smokestacks was equivalent to the emissions from more than 11 million cars, canceling out projected reductions from California’s landmark standards for motor vehicles and its 20% renewable portfolio standard.

This week, the state Department of Water Resources (DWR) took a huge step toward ending our coal shadow when it renewed its commitments to stop purchasing power from the Reid Gardner power plant in Nevada starting in 2013. This critical step, the second major commitment in the past three months that will help California shed its demand for imported coal fired generation, is a strong signal that California global warming policies are working and that a full end of our coal shadow may be in sight.

In July 1983, DWR entered into a 30 year contract with Reid Gardner to import up to 235 MW from one of the plant’s four units to power part of the State Water Project. The project is the largest single consumer of electricity in California and pumps water up and down our state for residential, industrial and agricultural operations. The coal-fired energy from Reid Gardner has accounted for 30-50% of DWR’s annual global warming pollution, while only accounting for 10-15% of the project’s overall energy supply. This means that Reid Gardner is dirtier and less efficient than California’s other sources of energy.

The Reid Gardner decision, coupled with the CPUC’s sale of their interest in Four Corners in March 2012, is a clear indication that California continues to stand at the forefront of environmental responsibility and seeks to protect its citizens from harmful pollution and reliance on inefficient energy development. Our recently-enacted 33% renewable standard, the 2006 emissions performance standard for power plants, and the soon-to-be-launched cap-and-trade program for major polluters are but three of the landmark policies that are driving this fundamental shift toward cleaner sources of energy that will create jobs while improving air quality and protecting public health.





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