November 2, 2018 Read More →

A new suitor for Navajo Generating Station?

Associated Press:

As states shy away from coal-fired power, a northern Arizona tribe is exploring the purchase of a coal plant on its land.

The Navajo Generating Station near the Arizona-Utah border and its feed mine are slated to close at the end of 2019, the victims of cheaper power from natural gas. A potential new owner and operator ended negotiations to take over the plant in September after they couldn’t find anyone to buy the power. The Navajo Transitional Energy Company said it’s now considering ownership of the plant at the invitation of the tribe.

Clark Moseley, the company’s chief executive, said he expects to have a plan for the 2,250-megawatt plant in place by the end of the year. “We are currently working to evaluate all possible solutions to ensure the continued operation of Navajo Generating Station and Kayenta Mine past 2019,” he said in a statement Thursday.

Hundreds of Navajos work in the coal industry, and the revenues make up a hefty chunk of the tribe’s general budget, not including federal money. The tribe created the Navajo Transitional Energy Company to buy a coal mine in northwestern New Mexico five years ago. The company also owns a 7 percent stake in two units at the Four Corners Power Plant fed by the mine.

The move to buy the Navajo Generating Station near Page is considered risky. The current operator, the Salt River Project, has said the plant no longer is economical. The Congressional Research Service recently found that one of the major users of the power, the Central Arizona Project, is not legally obligated to purchase electricity from the plant under new ownership.

Navajo Transitional Energy approached the Salt River Project in mid-October to review data on the power plant, said SRP spokesman Scott Harelson. The plant likely would shut down temporarily even as the Navajo Nation vets it. At least 150 employees already have been moved to other facilities in anticipation of the shutdown, and SRP won’t stray from decommissioning plans, Harelson said.

More: Navajo consider buying coal-fired power plant on its land

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