Mohave County
June 2024
Volume 24 Issue 4

Jun 2024 | General, June 2024 | 0 comments

MEC Peaker Plant proposal ignites community debate over location

General, June 2024 | 0 comments

June 2024

MOHAVE VALLEY – The Mohave Electric Cooperative’s (MEC) proposal to construct a 98-megawatt gas-fired peaker power plant has sparked a heated debate among residents of Fort Mohave and Mohave Valley. The plant, initially proposed for Fort Mohave and now slated for a site near Aquarius Drive and Willow Drive in Mohave Valley, has drawn opposition from local groups concerned about potential environmental and health impacts.
Understanding Peaker Plants and Their Role in the Energy Grid
Peaker plants are power generation facilities designed to operate during periods of peak electricity demand, typically running on natural gas. Unlike baseload plants that operate continuously, peaker plants are activated only when there is a high demand for electricity, such as during hot summer days when air conditioning use spikes. These plants are designed to start up quickly and provide additional power to stabilize the grid (U.S. Energy Information Administration, 2021).
MEC argues that the proposed peaker plant is necessary to meet the growing electricity demands of the region, especially during peak usage times. The cooperative maintains that the plant will provide a reliable source of electricity, helping to prevent blackouts and support the integration of renewable energy sources by providing backup power when solar and wind outputs are variable (Mohave Electric Cooperative, 2024).
Initial Location and
Community Opposition
MEC’s initial proposed location for the peaker plant was in Fort Mohave, near residential areas, schools, and other sensitive locations. This proximity led to immediate opposition from local residents, who formed the group “Not in Any Neighborhood” to voice their concerns about potential health risks, environmental impacts, and decreased property values (NotInAnyNeighborhood).
The group has been vocal in its opposition to the plant, arguing that it should not be built near any residential areas. They have raised concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding MEC’s land acquisition process, claiming that the cooperative moved forward with land purchases and project planning without adequate community consultation (Mohave County Board of Supervisors, 2023).
Current Proposed Location and Ongoing Resistance
In response to the community opposition, MEC has now proposed a new location for the peaker plant near Aquarius Drive and Willow Drive in Mohave Valley. This new site, announced in April 2024, is still met with resistance from local groups who argue that the plant should not be built near any residential areas (Mohave Valley Daily News, 2024).
Despite the change in location, “Not in Any Neighborhood” and other concerned citizens continue to voice their opposition to the project. They maintain that the potential environmental and health risks associated with the plant outweigh any potential benefits and that MEC should explore alternative options for meeting the region’s energy needs (NotInAnyNeighborhood, n.d.).
Environmental and Health Concerns
One of the primary concerns raised by opponents of the peaker plant is the potential impact on air quality and public health. Peaker plants emit various pollutants, including nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur dioxide (SO2), carbon dioxide (CO2), and particulate matter (PM2.5). According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), these emissions can contribute to air pollution, leading to respiratory and cardiovascular diseases among the local population (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2021).
The American Lung Association has also expressed concerns about the health impacts of peaker plants, particularly in communities already burdened by poor air quality. They emphasize that exposure to air pollution from these plants can exacerbate asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and other respiratory illnesses (American Lung Association, 2022).
Water Usage and Strain on Local Resources
Another point of contention is the significant amount of water required for cooling processes in peaker plants. In arid regions like Arizona, where water scarcity is a growing concern, the high water consumption of these plants can strain local water resources (Arizona Department of Water Resources, 2022).
Opponents of the project argue that MEC has not provided detailed plans for sourcing and using water for the plant, raising concerns about the potential impact on local aquifers and water availability for residential and agricultural use. They call for a thorough assessment of the plant’s water requirements and the development of a sustainable water management plan (Mohave County Board of Supervisors, 2023).
MEC’s Rationale and
Projected Benefits
MEC maintains that the proposed peaker plant is necessary to ensure reliable electricity supply and support the region’s growing energy demands. They argue that the plant will provide critical backup power during peak usage times, helping to prevent blackouts and maintain grid stability (Mohave Electric Cooperative, 2024).
The cooperative also asserts that the plant will bring economic benefits to the region, including job creation during the construction and operational phases and the potential stabilization or reduction of electricity rates. MEC projects that the plant will support local economic growth by providing a reliable power supply to businesses and industries (Mohave County Economic Development Department, 2023).
Furthermore, MEC emphasizes that the peaker plant is part of a larger strategy to integrate renewable energy sources into the grid. The cooperative plans to add over 200 MW of solar energy and 300 MW of battery storage by 2025, with the peaker plant providing quick-start and fast-ramping power generation to stabilize the grid when renewable outputs are low (Mohave Electric Cooperative, 2024).
Regulatory Context and EPA Stance
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) plays a critical role in regulating emissions from power plants, including peaker plants. The agency sets standards for air pollutants and greenhouse gases, and requires plants to obtain permits and install pollution control technologies to minimize their environmental impact (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2022).
The EPA acknowledges the role of peaker plants in maintaining grid reliability but also recognizes their environmental and health impacts. The agency advocates for stringent emissions controls and continuous monitoring to mitigate these effects. Additionally, the EPA supports the transition to cleaner energy sources to reduce reliance on fossil fuels (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2022).
In the case of the proposed MEC peaker plant, the EPA will review the project’s environmental impact assessment and ensure that it complies with all applicable regulations and standards. The agency will also consider public comments and concerns raised by the community during the permitting process (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, 2022).
Community Engagement and Transparency
As the debate over the proposed peaker plant continues, MEC has taken steps to engage with the community and address concerns. The cooperative has held several town hall meetings and information sessions to provide updates on the project and gather feedback from residents (Mohave Electric Cooperative, 2024).
However, some community members and opposition groups have criticized MEC for a lack of transparency and inadequate public involvement in the decision-making process. They argue that the cooperative should have conducted more extensive outreach and consultation before moving forward with land acquisition and project planning (NotInAnyNeighborhood, n.d.).
In response to these concerns, MEC has committed to ongoing communication through its website, social media channels, and local news outlets. The cooperative has also established a dedicated project website and email address for residents to submit questions and comments (Mohave Electric Cooperative, 2024).
Alternative Solutions and Renewable Energy Integration
As the community grapples with the proposed peaker plant, some stakeholders have called for a greater focus on alternative solutions and renewable energy integration. They argue that investing in clean energy technologies, such as solar power and battery storage, could meet the region’s energy needs while minimizing environmental and health impacts (Sierra Club, 2023).
MEC has acknowledged the importance of renewable energy and has set ambitious targets for solar and storage capacity. However, the cooperative maintains that the peaker plant is a necessary component of its overall energy strategy, providing reliable backup power and grid stability (Mohave Electric Cooperative, 2024).
Critics of the project argue that MEC should prioritize renewable energy investments and explore innovative solutions, such as demand response programs and energy efficiency initiatives, to reduce the need for fossil fuel-based peaker plants (Sierra Club, 2023).
As the Mohave County Board of Supervisors and the Arizona Corporation Commission consider the fate of the proposed peaker plant, the community remains divided. Supporters of the project emphasize the need for reliable electricity and the potential economic benefits, while opponents highlight the environmental and health risks and call for a greater focus on clean energy alternatives.
–Stephen Lightman

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