Crashing Las Vegas: Memoirs of an Aircraft Crash Investigator in the Heyday of Las Vegas

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Under the original plans, Southern California Edison was to control 56 percent of the output, but by , SCE, which operated the station and Hoover Dam , owned 86 percent, with Nevada Power retaining ownership of its original 14 percent. Peabody Coal Company of St.

Whereas Moapa Station is supplied by trains, pipelines deliver coal to Mojave Station. Pumps send a slurry of pulverized coal and water miles to the plant, twice crossing the Colorado River.

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Energy generation had used so much water by that the water table had already dropped between 10 and 70 feet. The worst-case scenario is that the water table will drop feet by the year Plans for Navajo Station began to take shape in the late s. The plant required Colorado River water, and its planning became entangled in legislation authorizing the Central Arizona Project. Aspinall pressured the Bureau of Reclamation and the Salt River Project to persuade the Navajo to relinquish most of their Colorado River water before he would let the Central Arizona Project legislation out of committee.

The Navajo, worried about the loss of potential jobs, signed over nearly 70 percent of their Colorado River water for use at Navajo Station. Part of the controversy in the late s surrounded the giving of federal land to Los Angeles for the plant site and transmission lines.

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The proposed transmission lines would have crossed the Sunrise Mountain area east of Las Vegas, which some wanted set aside as wilderness. Environmentalists said that they would drop their opposition if the federal government proclaimed , acres of new wilderness area elsewhere in the state. Senator Chic Hecht R—Nev. In recent years, the Los Angeles DWP has lost some interest in the plant, because of new California state regulations regarding power sales. Both companies continue to contribute money to maintain their rights in the project.


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Los Angeles depends on the rest of the West for its energy and continues to reach out to meet increased demand. Los Angeles has not been the only city to need additional electricity. One word summarizes Las Vegas in the s: growth.

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The population growth of the city and southern Nevada are nearly unparalleled in the United States. To date, Nevada Power has met the challenge of providing more power to the region. Instead of building more generation stations, the company is buying electricity on the open market.


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In , of all the energy Nevada Power sold, it bought more power on the open market 45 percent than it generated at its coal-burning plants 44 percent. The gaming industry is a major customer of Nevada Power. In , it bought 1. Concerned that a domino effect might develop, in that other businesses also would try to negotiate lower rates, Nevada Power sought to keep the exact amount of the rate reduction a secret. Representatives for each group argued that the agreement discriminated against residential users and maintained that small users subsidized large users.

A Nevada Power spokesperson stated just the opposite and said that large users made lower residential rates possible. Shortly after agreeing on the contract with Mirage Resorts, Nevada Power asked the Public Service Commission for permission to lower rates. The utility said that lower coal and natural gas costs, and cheaper power on the open market, made the reduction possible.

Finally, the utility decided that residential users would receive a reduction amounting to less than 1 percent—for the average consumer, about a dollar a month during the high-use summer months. The cut for large customers came close to what the power company had offered Mirage Resorts in the once secret agreement.

Toward the end of July , the commission unanimously voted to dismiss the contract, citing lack of legal authority to authorize a rate reduction for a single user. Mirage Resorts immediately announced plans to build a generation plant as it had threatened to do and estimated that it would go on line in eighteen months. During the hearings, rate and usage information became public.

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The Mirage and Treasure Island used enough power to electrify 14, homes. In the end, Lenzie warned, California may be the big winner. A rate decrease in California may mean an increase in other western states. In an unregulated market, the biggest customer may get the most power at the best price. In , Perspectives reported that an average of 3, people moved to Las Vegas each month.


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Residential customers also could expect cheaper utility rates. Las Vegas holds a paradoxical position in terms of its relationship with California and the West. California receives enormous amounts of energy from sites throughout the region, plants that it either operates or partially owns. Hoover Dam and Mojave Station are two prime examples. The energy needs, and water needs in the case of Hoover Dam, of southern California were the determining factors in the construction of those projects.

The paradox of electricity in Nevada is that the state both imports and exports electrical energy. Las Vegas is both a colony and a colonizer in the energy-intensive American West. Construction of new casinos continues unabated, and each new casino will require large amounts of power. Las Vegas is a city dependent on energy-intensive businesses for its economic health, and out-of-state sources provide most of that energy. See, e. The early history of electricity in Las Vegas is discussed in Charles P. One horsepower of electricity equals watts of electricity, or. Electrical consumption is normally measured in kilowatt-hours; a kilowatt of power equals 1.

One kilowatt-hour of electricity is required to burn ten one-hundred-watt light bulbs for one hour. Livewire cited n. Clark was not related to the William Clark for whom Clark County is named. Generators rarely produce at full capacity. Some energy loss is also inherent in electrical systems. Moehring, Resort City in the Sunbelt, —21; and Livewire cited n. See also Livewire cited n. Moehring, Resort City in the Sunbelt, — Bureau of the Census, Census of Housing, , vol.

Mojave Generation Station Units 1 and 2 n. Ambler, Breaking the Iron Bonds, — See also Hal K.

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Tucson: University of Arizona Press, Mojave Generation Station Units 1 and 2, 4. Ambler, Breaking the Iron Bonds, , The Navajo had controlled 50, acre-feet of water before the deal. Nevada Department of Energy, Energy in Nevada, Nevada Department of Energy, Energy in Nevada, 43— Las Vegas Review-Journal, August 13, Las Vegas Review-Journal, July 7 and 21, Ibid, July 7, And see ibid.

Las Vegas Perspective n. By the late s, planners at the Las Vegas Valley Water District could see that even with the most conservative estimates of growth rates and the most optimistic projections for conservation, Las Vegas would run out of water soon after the turn of the century. Estimates as to exactly how far the water supply could be stretched differed, depending on the variables planners used in their computer models, but a few things were certain. Las Vegas was growing at a steady pace, adding roughly 5, new residents each month, year after year, putting it among the fastest-growing areas in the country.

The aquifer underlying the Las Vegas Valley was already overtapped. The ground under parts of the city was slowly subsiding. With the s looming and the population of the greater Las Vegas metropolitan area quickly approaching 1 million, with no sign of slowing, Patricia Mulroy, the hard-driving general manager of the Las Vegas Valley Water District, knew something had to be done.

These were the men who imagined and built the plumbing of the West.

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