FORT DEFIANCE – On March 29, the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority will hold a date for a public hearing on its proposal to implement a temporary electric rate surcharge to recover the financial loss as a result of the closure of the Black Mesa mining operation near Kayenta.
Based on financial reports, the mine closure will have a significant fiscal impact on the operations of NTUA, which must recover $2.8 million from its operating budget because the shutdown.
NTUA management will present the temporary surcharge proposal before the NTUA Management Board for approval during a formal public hearing held at the Dine’ Education Center in Window Rock beginning at 10 a.m.
NTUA is proposing that all electric customers pay a 7.2 percent surcharge to the total of the electric portion of their utility bill. For example if a customer is charged $100 for electric usage, the surcharge will be $7.20. Likewise, if the electric line item equals $35.50, the surcharge will be $2.56.
Utilities can implement what is referred to as a surcharge to offset significant operational expenses. In this case, it is specific to the closure of the Black Mesa mine.
“Losing the mining operation is a considerable financial loss,” said Kenneth L. Craig, NTUA Acting General Manager. “We want customers to know that we would not be seeking this temporary surcharge unless it was absolutely necessary.”
If approved, the temporary surcharge will become effective April 1 and will be clearly distinguished as a separate line item on May utility bills. Once adopted, NTUA will apply this surcharge temporarily until the mining operation resumes. Once that takes place, the surcharge will be dropped.
NTUA will be mailing informational flyers as billing inserts to all electric customers throughout the month of March.
Rather than seeking a full electric base rate adjustment at this time, NTUA is proposing to implement the temporary surcharge, in order to lessen the impact to customers. However, NTUA continues to evaluate the options for future electric revenue and rate needs.
Consistent with the Plan of Operation, NTUA is required to host one formal public hearing whenever utility rates are to be adjusted. Before any rates are adjusted, the seven-member NTUA Management Board must consider the proposal.
“This public hearing will allow all customers the opportunity to put forth their comments,” Craig said. “If customers have any concerns they may and should attend the public hearing.”
Customers may send their comments to the NTUA General Manager’s Office, P.O. Box 170, Fort Defiance Ariz. 86504. Comments can also be sent to the NTUA web site, www.ntua.com. All written comments must be received by 5 p.m., Friday, March 24 for consideration.
Comments can also be submitted to NTUA district offices located in Chinle, Dilkon, Fort Defiance, Crownpoint, Kayenta, Tuba City, Nageezi, Shiprock and Red Mesa. Each NTUA district office will also have information relating to the proposed temporary surcharge.