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Navajo, SRP Take Steps To Make Solar A Priority

Coverage of tribal natural resources is supported in part by Catena Foundation

The Navajo Nation is taking steps to make  solar energy a priority, with the help of Salt River Project.

Salt River Project seeks proposals for up to 200 megawatts of solar development on the Navajo Nation. That energy will be transmitted to SRP customers in the Valley.

Proposed projects must be in operation by December 2023, so they can take advantage of federal tax incentives.

The contract will help SRP reach its goal of 1,000 megawatts of new solar energy in the next five years. The utility has committed to reducing carbon dioxide emissions by 90% by 2050.

"It's the beginning of a new era for the Navajo Nation," Navajo President Jonathan Nez said. "We recognize that coal-based energy provided many benefits for the workers and their families, but times are changing and energy development is changing."

In November, SRP and other utilities shut down the Navajo Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant, in favor of natural gas and renewable energy.

"We are looking to become the leader in renewable energy throughout the Southwest and Indian Country," Nez said.

Laurel Morales was a senior field correspondent at KJZZ from 2011 to 2020.