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Feds Approve Lease For Navajo Generating Station

The West’s largest coal-fired plant will remain open through the end of 2019.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Department of the Interior announced that it has approved the lease for the Navajo Generating Station.

Without the final approval, the coal-fired plant in the northeast corner of Arizona would have closed at the end of the year. Instead, it will operate for the next two years.

After that, the owners of the plant, including Salt River Project, Arizona Public Service and Tucson Electric Power, will pull out because of low natural gas prices that the utilities say make coal generation no longer economical.

The plant is a critical economic driver and source of revenue for the Navajo and Hopi tribes, employing more than 600 people. It also emits more greenhouse gases than almost any other power plant in the country.

So far the tribes have not been able to find any new owners to assume control of the plan after 2019.

Will Stone grew up with the sounds of public radio. As a senior field correspondent, he strives to tell the same kind of powerful stories that got him into the business — whether that means trudging through some distant corner of the Sonoran Desert or uncovering an unknown injustice right down the street. Since joining the KJZZ newsroom in 2015, he has covered political scandals, fights over the future of energy, and efforts to care for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable communities. His pieces have also aired on national programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now and Marketplace. Before coming to KJZZ, he reported for public radio stations in Nevada and Connecticut. Stone received his degree in English literature from Haverford College, where he also wrote about the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia. After graduating, he interned at NPR West in Culver City, California, where he learned from some of the network’s veteran reporters and editors. When he doesn’t have a mic in hand, Stone enjoys climbing mountains, running through his central Phoenix neighborhood and shamelessly promoting his cat, Barry.