Is Navajo Generating Station here to stay?

Tribes asking for answers from Salt River Project about the future of NGS

Navajo Generating Station sits a few miles south of Page, Arizona. Adobe stock

Navajo Generating Station sits a few miles south of Page, Arizona. Adobe stock

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The Navajo Generating Station uses coal to produce electricity. Because of recently declining costs of natural gas the station is facing an uncertain future. Adobe stock

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. — The Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe are calling on Salt River Project and other owners to keep the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) in full operation for the benefit of the tribes and the state of Arizona.

Both tribes have said they have been contacted by Salt River Project (SRP) representatives regarding the possible closure of Navajo Generating Station (NGS) because of the low cost of natural gas as opposed to coal.

On Feb. 1, Navajo Nation Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates and Hopi Tribal Chairman Herman G. Honanie met in Flagstaff to share their to share their concerns over the possible closure and the greater economic impact for the entire state.

“We have made it clear to SRP that we want the owners of NGS to be upfront, open and honest in regard to their intentions,” Bates said. “Decisions need to be made and SRP needs to take into full consideration the impact that a possible closure would have on the economy, jobs and communities that rely on NGS.”

NGS and Kayenta Mine, which provides coal to the power plant, provide significant revenue and many jobs for both tribes. Combined revenues from both operations provide more than 80-percent of the Hopi Tribe’s general fund budget.

“The Hopi people are dissatisfied with the lack of transparency from SRP in its recent threats to discontinue NGS,” Honanie said.

On Feb. 2, Arizona Corporation Commissioner Andy Tobin issued a letter to the president of the SRP Agricultural Improvement and Power District, which said that SRP and other critical stakeholders, including commissioners, must suspend plans to close NGS and called for an “emergency NGS power summit as soon as practicable to discuss ways to protect NGS.”

“The closure of NGS will have a profoundly negative impact across all peoples and sectors of our state,” Tobin said in the letter. “SRP must look beyond its spreadsheets and see that this decision must not and should not be made unilaterally.”

Leaders from both tribes thanked Tobin for his support and urged other state and federal leaders to urge SRP and other owners to negotiate a sustainable pathway for the continuation of Navajo Generating Station.

“This is a very complex issue and it is important that we move along carefully while we remain mindful of our people, their jobs and their livelihood,” Bates said.

The Navajo Nation has developed a task force, which includes the chairs of each of the Navajo Nation Council’s Standing Committees, which meets on a regular basis with SRP officials to discuss possible solutions.

Leadership from both tribes agreed that they would continue to meet and work together to ensure that NGS will continue operations to 2019 and beyond and both tribes remain open to continued discussions with SRP. 

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