Power Plant Publc Hearings

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The public will have a chance to speak out
about a proposed major coal-fired power plant in White Pine County
at a series of meetings to be held across the state this week.

he U.S. Bureau of Land Management's meetings come three months
after Nevada's two main electric utilities were given the
regulatory go-ahead to begin developing the state's largest power
plant and 250 miles of power lines to connect it to Las Vegas.

BLM officials said meetings Monday in Las Vegas, Tuesday in
Alamo, Wednesday in Ely, Thursday in Elko and Friday in Reno will
help in preparation of an environmental impact statement for the
Ely Energy Center.

Consumer rates are expected to increase once the plant opens
about 30 miles north of Ely, as the companies repay debt they incur
to pay for construction.

A coalition of environmental groups that banded together as
Nevadans for Clean Affordable Reliable Energy says the coal-fired
plant would contribute to emissions of heat-trapping gases linked
to global warming.

Coal is cheap and plentiful but releases high levels of carbon
dioxide, a gas blamed for trapping heat in the Earth's atmosphere
and raising temperatures worldwide.

BLM officials said the EIS will evaluate potential impacts of
building two 750-megawatt coal-fired generating units, two
500-megawatt integrated gasification generating units and other
facilities on 2,500 acres of public land.

Related facilities include a possible new rail line, coal
unloading and storage facilities, a solid waste disposal facility,
an evaporation pond and support buildings.

The EIS also will assess the potential impacts of granting a
right-of-way for the proposed transmission line and related
facilities in White Pine, Lincoln, Nye, and Clark counties.

The project also may include a new substation at Robinson Summit
along U.S. Highway 50 northwest of Ely, officials said.

On Nov. 8, the Public Utilities Commission gave Las Vegas-based
Nevada Power Co. and Reno-based Sierra Pacific Power Co. approval
to spend $300 million toward the $3.7 billion project.

Plans call for one of the coal-fired generating units to begin
operating in 2011, with a twin unit starting in 2013. Together,
they would provide enough energy for 900,000 homes.

The meetings will be held Monday at the BLM's Las Vegas field
office, Tuesday at the Alamo Ambulance Barn, Wednesday at the
Bristlecone Convention Center in Ely, Thursday at the BLM's Elko
field office and Friday at the BLM's state office in Reno.

The meetings will be held from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., with a
presentation scheduled at 6 p.m.

AP-NY-02-04-07 1759EST