Nevada's state Senate on Wednesday gave unanimous approval to a utility-backed proposal (SB 123) to retire coal-fired generation in the state and to usher in more natural gas-fired and renewable generation in the years ahead. SB 123 now goes to the lower house Assembly for action.

Las Vegas-based NV Energy earlier this year submitted its "NVision" to the state legislature, but it has run into pushback from the state's largest energy users in the gaming/hospitality industry.

Concerns of consumer advocates, gaming industry and state regulators caused state legislators to revise SB 123's language to the extent that it is now considered to be a bipartisan proposal, according to local news reports.

As the bill stands now, NV Energy will retire at least 800 MW of coal-fired generation by the end of 2019, allowing the development of up to 350 MW of renewables and another 550 MW of gas-fired or other generation.

A long-time supporter of the coal-to-gas/renewables switch, state Sen. Kelvin Atkinson (D-North Las Vegas), called SB 123 a "strong policy statement" and predicted that it would put the state in "the forefront of U.S. energy policy," according to an Associated Press report.

If SB 123 passes and the Nevada Public Utilities Commission also approves the utility's plans, NV Energy will start by closing its Reid Gardner coal plant in southern Nevada by 2017. The company also plans to stop taking supplies from the coal-fired Navajo plant in northern Arizona and to close its Valmy coal-fired plan in northern Nevada by 2025.

NV Energy currently operates 10 generation plants in Nevada, seven of which are gas-fired.

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