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Working group proposes agreement to reduce emissions from Navajo plant in Arizona

From the August 5, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published August 5, 2013

By Jeannine Anderson
A Technical Work Group established to identify emission reduction alternatives for the Navajo Generating Station in Arizona on July 26 announced a proposal that the group said would achieve even greater reductions of nitrogen oxide emissions than a proposal earlier this year from the Environmental Protection Agency. The alternate proposal was submitted to the EPA for review.

The 2,250-megawatt coal-fired power plant, located on the Navajo Reservation near Page, Ariz., is operated by the Salt River Project. The plant is owned by SRP, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Arizona Public Service Co., Tucson Electric Power Co. and NV Energy. 

The Technical Work Group consists of representatives from the Salt River Project (on behalf of itself and the other owners of the Navajo plant), the U.S. Department of the Interior, the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Gila River Indian Community, the Navajo Nation, and Western Resource Advocates.

The EPA issued a best available retrofit technology (BART) proposal for Navajo plant in February that would require the plant's owners to install selective catalytic reduction technology on all three units by 2018. However, the agency also proposed an alternative that acknowledges the owners’ voluntary early installation of low-NOx burners at the plant in exchange for an extended schedule requiring installation of selective catalytic reduction on one unit per year between 2021 and 2023. The EPA also invited alternative proposals that would achieve the same or greater emissions reductions.

Under the proposal put forward by the Technical Working Group, one 750-MW unit at the power plant would be shut down by Jan. 1, 2020 and selective catalytic reduction technology would be installed on the remaining units by 2030 – if the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and NV Energy exit the project, as expected, by 2019, and if the Navajo Nation chooses not to exercise an option to purchase a portion of the plant’s ownership shares. Together, LADWP and NV Energy own the equivalent of approximately one unit at the big power plant.

If the ownership situation plays out differently, the agreement would require NOx reductions equivalent to the shutdown of one unit between 2020 and 2030. The owners would have to submit annual plans to EPA beginning in 2020 through the end of 2044 describing the measures to be implemented to achieve greater emission reductions than EPA’s proposed rule through a combination of retirement in capacity or curtailment in utilization at the plant and new emission controls.

Under both scenarios, the plant's owners said they would cease operation of all conventional coal-fired generation at Navajo no later than Dec. 22, 2044.

"Given the challenges associated with the timelines specified in the proposed rule, the development of an alternative proposal was essential," said Mike Hummel, chief power system executive at SRP. "The Technical Work Group proposal provides a path for the future operation of Navajo Generating Station that incorporates potential ownership changes and provides a much needed extension to the schedule for installing selective catalytic reduction," he said. "As such, SRP strongly believes that the Technical Work Group proposal is the best path forward for its customers and for the state of Arizona."

"This plan provides a roadmap to cleaner air, climate progress and a stronger clean energy economy," said Vickie Patton, general counsel for the Environmental Defense Fund. "We had to work through some difficult issues but together we were able to develop an approach that provides for cleaner air at the Grand Canyon and surrounding communities, that begins a cost-effective clean energy transition at the Navajo Generating Station, and that provides for crucial clean energy economic development for the Navajo Nation, Hopi Tribe and Gila River Indian Community." 

The agreement includes "significant commitments by the United States to further new renewable, low-emission power projects to benefit Arizona tribes," the working group said. 


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Senior Vice President, Publishing 
Jeanne Wickline LaBella

Editorial Director
Robert Varela

Editor, Public Power Daily
Jeannine Anderson

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Fallon W. Forbush

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Laura D’Alessandro