November 4, 2018 Read More →

NTUA adds to its solar footprint on Navajo Nation

Gallup Independent:

Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, under the direction of General Manger Walter Haase, is making hay while the sun shines when it comes to solar energy.

“Few locales in the U.S. are richer in solar potential than the Navajo Nation,” Karl Cates, research editor for the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, noted in an October report. “Yet the resource remains largely untapped.”

But that scenario may be changing.

Haase said last week that NTUA is basically doubling in size its first Kayenta solar farm, from 27.3 to 55 megawatts. Swinerton Renewable Energy has been awarded the contract and the project is expected to start construction in December.

A job fair will be held 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Nov. 28 at the Kayenta Chapter House to select a pool of 100 construction workers – everything from laborers to electricians, hopefully experienced, Haase said – and will peak out at between 250-300 employees as the project ramps up.

“When we actually did Kayenta I (solar farm) we drew upon a lot of experienced workers that did this type work in a lot of different places – and we took some folks who hadn’t done it before. We wanted a mixture of folks so that a new group of folks could learn the trade,” he said.

Kayenta II will add approximately 28 megawatts to increase the total output to 55 megawatts, with the actual, physical power staying on the Navajo Nation to feed homes in Kayenta and the Long House Valley area of Black Mesa.

“A little bit could potentially be going on certain days over into Shiprock on our transmission line,” Haase said, but most of the energy will be consumed in the central part of the Navajo Nation.

Although the Kayenta project produces electricity to be used locally, energy from a proposed solar farm on up to 5,000 acres of land in Cameron would be exported to the grid.

The lands are located within a 3 mile radius of the interconnection point at the Moenkopi Substation and could accommodate up to 500 megawatts. In contrast, Kayenta I and II will use 365 acres to produce 55 megawatts.

NTUA has been similarly looking at a 5,000-acre parcel in LeChee and has spent almost two years trying to get through the same process as was done in Cameron, Haase said.

Under the Navajo Nation Energy Policy, there’s an opportunity for the big government in Window Rock to share some of the revenue stream with the little government, or chapters.

NTUA adds to its solar footprint on Navajo

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