News Releases

Sierra Pacific Resources ready to install its first tower to measure air quality

May 15, 2006

Media Contact: Faye I. Andersen (775) 834-4822

Sierra Pacific Resources is beginning installation of a meteorological tower in Steptoe Valley, an important first step toward submitting its air permit application to state agencies this fall for its proposed coal-fired Ely Energy Center in White Pine County, Nevada.  The tower will be located adjacent to the Gonder Electric Substation, six miles north of Ely, a site where major transmission lines interconnect in eastern Nevada.

Once completed, the meteorological tower will stand 50-meters tall, (approximately 160 feet).  The tower will be outfitted with sensors that will measure wind speed and direction, barometric pressure and humidity, as well as ambient air quality. The tower is expected to remain in place for roughly 13 months, then be dismantled.

Additional towers may be installed in other parts of the county to assess conditions at other potential sites.  Special use permits have been obtained to comply with county ordinances on height restrictions, and the towers will be equipped with lights to ensure safety at night.

The facility will also be equipped with"SODAR,"a radar device that will measure horizontal and vertical wind speed and direction every 50 meters, up to 400 meters, or roughly 1,200 feet above the tower.  In addition to serving as a platform for the air measurement devises, the tall tower provides the means to ensure SODAR measurements are adequately calibrated on an ongoing basis.

"The height of the tower ensures adequate round-the-clock measurements"said Darrell Soyars, environmental manager for Sierra Pacific. "We want to make sure we've accurately measured the quality and conditions of the air shed when we submit our applications to the Nevada Department of Environmental Protection (NDEP).  The NDEP requires these state-of-the art monitoring facilities as part of their review of our application,"added Soyars.

The contractor for the project is ENSR International of Fort Collins, Colo., a leading environmental services company with decades of experience in air quality management and offices worldwide.  They will install, maintain and compile the data from the towers.  The data will be used to measure current air quality and model any impacts the energy complex might have on the surrounding area.  The first tower will be erected by Carson Unlimited of Ely.

In addition, Mt. Wheeler Electric will provide space at their Ely facilities to store equipment prior to installation. Ã¢â‚¬Å“We're deeply appreciative of the cooperation we've received from Kevin Robison and Randy Ewell at Mt. Wheeler,” stated David Sims, project development director for Sierra Pacific. Delivering the equipment to Mt. Wheeler ensures the local community will recognize the sales taxes on various components of the tower.

ENSR will provide periodic monitoring of the site equipment to ensure accurate measurements.  The location, which will be fenced to ensure the delicate equipment is protected, also be periodically patrolled by local security from the Ely area, Sims said.

In January, Sierra Pacific Resources announced its intention to move forward with the development of a $3 billion coal-fired power complex near Ely and construct a high voltage electric transmission line that would extend for 250 miles from Ely to Las Vegas and provide the first electrical interconnection between the Sierra Pacific Power Company and Nevada Power Company, both subsidiaries of Sierra Pacific Resources.

The power facility is planned to serve customers of both utilities in northern and southern Nevada.  Both utilities are subsidiaries of Sierra Pacific Resources.  The proposed power complex initially calls for two 750 megawatt (MW) units utilizing the latest, state-of-the-art, fully-environmental compliant, clean pulverized coal technologies. The plans also provide for future expansion with two 500 MW coal gasification units when the technology becomes commercially viable. The company said the facility's initial 750 MW operating unit is expected to become operational during 2011, and the second 750 megawatt unit on line approximately two years afterward.

The planned transmission line not only will provide the all-important tie between northern and southern Nevada, but also will address the company's and the state's emphasis on development of renewable energy resources. The line will include several hundred megawatts of capacity for power generated by renewable resources in the eastern and northern portions of Nevada and will allow that power to be efficiently transported throughout the state.