May 7, 2020 Read More →

Navajo Power links up with solar developer sPower to build PV projects on tribal land

Greentech Media:

Solar heavyweight sPower and local startup Navajo Power are chasing a 200-megawatt deal with Arizona utility Salt River Project, but that’s just the beginning.

For decades, the massive coal-fired Navajo Generating Station powered the great cities of the Desert Southwest: Los Angeles, Phoenix, Las Vegas. Yet the Navajo Nation that hosted it contains 75 percent of all the households in the U.S. that lack electricity, according to the American Public Power Association.

The 2,250-megawatt plant shut down in November, leaving job losses and underutilized electrical transmission infrastructure in its wake. Now, startup Navajo Power wants to fill the vacuum with massive solar power plants while channeling the proceeds into electrification and economic development for Navajo communities.

On Wednesday, Navajo Power took a big step toward that ambition by signing a co-development deal with renewables powerhouse sPower, GTM has learned. Navajo Power also announced an initial close of $4.5 million out of a planned $10 million seed round of funding.

Arizona utility Salt River Project, which operated and partially owned the coal plant, is seeking bids for 200 megawatts of solar on Navajo land by the end of 2023. Under the sPower deal, it will collaborate with Navajo Power on a project of that size, with a plan to expand up to 750 megawatts. SPower brings access to capital and a track record of developing gigawatts’ worth of renewable projects around the country, while Navajo Power specializes in the unique requirements of development in Navajo territory.

The 200-megawatt project is first on the docket, but Navajo Power has grand ambitions for massive clean energy capacity in the region. Longer-term, the founders want to augment solar production with 5 gigawatts of long-duration storage, which would unlock clean energy on demand, instead of just when the sun is shining.

[Julian Spector]

More: Developer sPower teams up with Navajo Power to replace coal plant with solar

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