Arizona Public Service is proposing to offer $144 million in help to three coal-country and tribal communities where the company eventually will close its remaining coal-burning power plants.
The plan would not only provide large investments in the Navajo Nation, Hopi tribe and Joseph City area, but also includes plans to retain workers, electrify regions of the Navajo reservation that are off the power grid, and develop renewable energy projects like solar and wind plants.
The plan represents a massive investment in communities that have suffered economically as the U.S. shifts its reliance on fossil fuels to newer technologies and reflects a commitment from the utility that it intends to continue down a path toward 100% carbon free electricity.
“Really since the 1960s, these communities have provided the power that really fueled the growth of Arizona,” said Jeff Guldner, CEO of APS and its parent company, Pinnacle West Capital Corp. He said that as coal plants shutter across the country, utilities are taking a look at how to responsibly help the communities that lose major sources of jobs and income, as well as tax revenue.
“It’s a conversation that is happening around the country,” Guldner said, adding that the payments would be paid overtime to help the communities rebuild their economies. “This is a pretty balanced plan,” he said. “It is the right thing to do.”