* Navajo plant upgrades could cost $1.1 billion
* EPA emissions controls to reduce smog in Grand Canyon
* Plant provides power to Arizona, California and Nevada
By Scott DiSavino
Jan 18 An Arizona power company said Friday the
future of a giant Navajo coal-fired power plant in Arizona was
uncertain because federal environmental regulators want
emissions-control equipment installed that could cost as much as
"We appreciate the EPA appears to have attempted to take
into consideration the complex timing issues that this decision
creates for the (Navajo) owners," John Sullivan, chief resources
executive at Salt River Project (SRP), said in a statement.
Salt River Project operates the 2,250-megawatt (MW) plant
for its owners. The plant is located on the Navajo Nation, less
than 20 miles from the Grand Canyon near Page, Arizona.
"Unfortunately, the proposal may not allow the owners enough
time to resolve uncertainties facing the plant before they will
be required to make a significant financial commitment,"
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said in a
statement Friday it wants the plant to reduce nitrogen oxides
(NOx) emissions to improve visibility, as required by Congress
under the Clean Air Act, at 11 national parks and wilderness
areas in the Southwest.
Nitrogen oxides react with other chemicals in the atmosphere
to form ozone, which causes a white or brown haze in the air
that has been associated with asthma and other breathing
disorders, the EPA said.
The EPA said the Navajo plant can meet the agency's proposed
emission limit by installing a selective catalytic reduction
Before investing $1 billion in new equipment, SRP's Sullivan
said the plant owners would want to renew the plant lease and
other critical agreements, which expire starting in 2019, among
The Navajo owners are already renegotiating the lease with
the Navajo Nation, but, SRP said the new lease will require
federal reviews that could take at least five years and the
approval of the U.S. Secretary of Interior.
The EPA proposed to give the plant until 2023 to install the
new controls to achieve the emission limit, recognizing the
plant's importance to numerous tribes and the environmental
benefits already provided by the plant's installation of the
low-NOx burners between 2009 and 2011.
SRP said the low NOx burners cost nearly $45 million and had
reduced NOx emissions by more than 40 percent.
CLEAN AIR OR JOBS
SRP said the EPA was required to take into account the
economic impact of its decisions.
The plant employs 520 people, more than 85 percent of whom
are Navajo, and the Kayenta Mine, which supplies coal to the
plant, employs more than 400, more than 90 percent whom are
Native American, SRP said.
The EPA said a selective catalytic reduction system combined
with the low-NOx burners would reduce emissions by 84 percent,
or a total of 28,500 tons per year, by 2018.
SRP, however, said most of the NOx in the air in nearby
parks and wilderness areas originates from wildfires, control
burns, windblown dust and emissions from metropolitan areas -
and not from the Navajo coal plant.
The EPA said a 90-day public comment period with public
meetings would begin once the agency publishes its notice in the
SRP said the Navajo owners would continue to work with the
EPA to find a solution to reduce haze in the parks.
The Navajo plant is owned by SRP, the U.S. Bureau of
Reclamation, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power, Pinnacle
West Capital Corp's Arizona Public Service, NV Energy
Inc's Nevada Power Co and UniSource Energy Corp's
Tucson Electric Power.
There are three 750-MW coal-fired units at Navajo that
entered service in 1974, 1975 and 1976.