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Navajo Generating Station To Operate Until 2019

Laurel Morales/KJZZ
file | staff |
One of the Navajo Generating Station's three 750-megawatt generators.

The Navajo Nation Council voted to keep the Navajo Generating Station open until 2019 then work with its owner to shut it down. This legislation buys the tribe a little more time to find a new source of revenue and jobs.

With this legislation Salt River Project, the plant owners, also agreed to turn over some water rights to the Navajo Nation and to pay the tribe $167 million to lease the land, for the time needed, to operate and shut down the plant in the next three to five years.

In addition Salt River Project will maintain the electrical transmission lines for 10 years. Navajo President Russell Begaye envisions solar and wind farms replacing coal energy.

“We’re excited about the fact we have 500 megawatts of electricity that we can utilize in our transition into renewable energy,” Begaye said.

With the plant closure the tribe loses $30 million a year in power plant revenue and 700 jobs.

Salt River Project chose to shut down earlier than anticipated because natural gas is so much cheaper than coal.

To listen to an interview with the Fronteras Desk's Laurel Morales on The Show, click here.

Laurel Morales was a Fronteras Desk reporter in Flagstaff from 2011 to 2020.