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Navajo Nation moving forward with two solar projects totaling 270MW of capacity

April 09, 2021

Associated Press:

The Navajo Nation is moving forward with two more solar plants on the reservation that are expected to generate millions of dollars in revenue for the tribe over the projects’ lifetimes.

Tribal leaders met at the site of the larger solar plant in Cameron on Tuesday to finalize the lease for the Cameron Solar Generation Plant. A committee of the Navajo Nation Council had approved the lease in late March.

The solar plant is expected to produce 200 megawatts of energy for one of Arizona’s largest utilities, the Salt River Project, though a power purchase agreement hasn’t yet been signed. About 400 people will be employed during construction.

Tribal President Jonathan Nez said the solar plants are part of a move toward renewable energy sources. On Wednesday, tribal officials gathered near the Arizona-Utah border to finalize a lease for a 70-megawatt solar plant there. The tribe has two other solar plants near Kayenta.

The Red Mesa Tapaha Solar Generation Plant is expected to create 300 jobs during the yearlong construction phase. It will be majority owned by the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority and provide energy largely to the Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems. Lease payments to the tribe will approach $7 million over the 30-year life of the project, the tribal utility said. The tribe also will receive tax revenue.

Over three decades, the [Cameron] solar plant is expected to bring in $90 million in energy transmission payments, $13 million in land lease payments and $6 million in tax revenue for the tribe.

More: Navajo Nation finalizes solar plant leases on tribal land

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