September 24, 2018 Read More →

End appears near for Navajo Generating Station

Arizona Republic:

It’s now a lock that the biggest coal plant in the West and the mine that feeds it will close in December 2019, if not earlier, and there is no proposal from anyone to stop it and little hope it would ever reopen.

Middle River Power of Illinois and its affiliated New York investment firm, Avenue Capital, were considering taking over the plant, but they announced Thursday those plans would not work out.

The news prompted a desperate request from Peabody Energy, which operates the Kayenta coal mine on Navajo and Hopi land and will have nowhere else to send the shiny black rock when the plant closes.

But short of a heavy-handed intervention by the federal government, the deal with Middle River Power offered the last, best hope to keep jobs for the approximately 750 mostly Native Americans who work at the plant and mine when they are fully operational.

The four utility owners — Salt River Project, Arizona Public Service Co., Tucson Electric Power and NV Energy —  voted in February 2017 to close the plant in favor of cheaper power from natural-gas plants.

SRP has already begun to wind down operations at the plant, transferring workers to other openings at the utility where possible and replacing them with contractors.

The utility’s lease allows it to continue running the plant through Dec. 22, 2019, and the company expects a small staff of mostly contractors running the facility by that point, if it even runs that long.

More: Death of Navajo coal plant deal will have wide-ranging consequences for tribes

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