News Releases

New Environmentally Advanced Power Plant to be Toured

Apr 22, 1998

Sierra Pacific Power Company
Contact: Bob Sagan/Faye Andersen
Phone: 775.834.4345

For Immediate Release

Piñon Pine 50% funded by U.S. government

Sierra Pacific Power Co.'s Piñon Pine Power Plant, an environmentally advanced, electric generating plant, will be open to public tours on Saturday, April 25, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Those touring are advised to wear comfortable footwear.

The $298 million dollar facility, half of which is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), will produce 100 megawatts of energy, capable of serving 65,000 homes. The site for the plant is Sierra Pacific's Tracy Power Station, located in Storey County, approximately 17 miles east of Reno, off I-80, exit 32. More efficient than conventional plants

Piñon Pine is an"integrated gasification and combined cycle system (IGCC)," which means it's capable of burning clean coal gas and/or natural gas to generate electricity. The IGCC technology is inherently a highly efficient power plant cycle, and is 10 to 15 percent more efficient than conventional coal-fired power plants.

Because of the plant's advanced pollution controls, emissions are at trace levels and significantly lower than other coal-fired generating options, far exceeding standards currently established by the Environmental Protection Agency and Clean Air Act for fossil-fueled plants.

The result is more efficient, less costly and environmentally cleaner electric generation than current commercial technologies will allow. Piñon Pine is the most efficient generating unit on Sierra Pacific's system. It also requires less water than currently used by conventional plants operated by the company, a plus for a desert environment. Part of"Clean Coal" program

The plant is part of the DOE's Clean Coal Technology Program, a $5 billion national commitment shared by the U.S. government and the private sector, to demonstrate economically and environmentally sound methods for using coal, America's most abundant energy source.

Abundant domestic coal is forecast to remain cheaper than natural gas as a fuel for the next century. Piñon Pine is a key project in holding the"coal option" open for Sierra Pacific and its customers in the future.

The DOE is sharing not only the construction costs of the facility, but also its operations, maintenance and fuel costs for a three-and-a-half-year test period.

The DOE notified Sierra Pacific in 1991, that the utility's proposal to build Piñon Pine would be one of only nine projects in the country chosen that year to demonstrate new clean coal technology. Approved by Nevada regulators

In 1993, the project was approved by the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada (PSC) as part of Sierra Pacific's 20-Year Electric Resource Plan. State law requires electric utilities to submit such plans showing the least cost alternatives for providing electric power to their customers.

Major contractors for the project include The M.W. Kellogg Company, owner of the advanced coal gasification technology featured at the plant; and Foster Wheeler USA, which was the architect, engineer and builder; and General Electric, which has developed the new combustion turbine that forms the basis of the combined cycle power generation section of the facility.

The Clean Coal Technology Program of the U.S. Department of Energy began in 1986. It is designed to address a wide range of issues, including acid rain, global warming, improved energy efficiency and environmental quality.