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Key Findings

Assertive and informed negotiation is crucial to ensuring that solar-development projects are built in ways that benefit, protect, and profit local communities. 

While a “seize-the-day” mind-set will serve Navajo chapter-house community leaders as utility-scale solar generation takes root across the Southwest U.S., it should be tailored to meet the long-term interests of local populations that continue to be underserved and overlooked.

Executive Summary

Rich in culture, land, and solar resources, Navajo Nation tribal-chapter communities are poised today to participate in a renewable-energy revolution that can help lift neighborhood and regional economies that have historically been left behind.

Located in the center of the American Sun Belt and situated near major electricitytransmission lines, these communities are increasingly being sought out by outside interests. These developers are often seeking deals crafted to meeting growing demand from utility companies that are switching from fossil-fuel powered electricity to renewables. This transition creates an urgent opportunity in which powerline capacity is open now for new forms of generation.

The Navajo Nation, in fact, is at the center of a region that stands to become a major source of solar-powered generation as part of a trend in which solar is capturing a growing piece of U.S. power-generation markets. Solar-driven electricity power has grown four-fold in just three years, and the Southwest stands apart for its contribution to this trend. The uptake of solar is hardly a regional phenomenon, however. Eight states now meet a significant portion of their electricity demand with solar.

Please view full report PDF for references and sources.

Press release: IEEFA Arizona: Fast-Track Opportunities Now in Navajo Community-Driven Solar Electricity Generation

Tony Skrelunas

Tony Skrelunas leads Navajo and Hopi community transition strategy around large-scale renewable energy projects and is a former director of economic development for the Navajo Nation.

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Karl Cates

Former IEEFA Transition Policy Analyst Karl Cates has been an editor for Bloomberg LP, an editor for the New York Times, and a consultant to the Treasury Department-sanctioned community development financial institution (CDFI) industry.

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Seth Feaster

Seth Feaster is an energy data analyst whose work focuses on the coal industry and the U.S. power sector.

Before joining IEEFA, he created visual presentations at the New York Times for 25 years with a focus on complex financial and energy data; he also worked at The Federal Reserve Bank of New York. 

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David Schlissel

David Schlissel has over 30 years of experience as a regulatory attorney and consultant on energy and utility issues. He has testified as an expert witness before regulatory commissions in more than 35 states and before the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

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