Environment | Opinion

Blog: Navajo Nation provides refuge for coal energy industry

Emily Guerin discusses the coal energy industry on the Navajo Nation:
Coal is always a hot topic on the Colorado Plateau, home to many of the mines and power plants that feed electricity-hungry Southwestern cities hundreds of miles away. But in the past few weeks, black gold has been in the news even more than normal as the Navajo Nation has weighed a new lease for the 2,250-megawatt Navajo Generating Station in Page, Ariz., and moved closer to buying the Navajo Mine, which feeds the Four Corners Power Plant. It may be unpopular elsewhere, but all signs indicate that in Navajoland, coal’s not going away any time soon.

NGS is a complex power plant: It’s got a ton of different owners, including the federal government – which relies on the power to pump water to Phoenix and Tucson – and utilities in Nevada, California and Arizona. Two of those owners want out of the coal business: In March, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa announced the city would be coal-free by 2025. That means its utility, Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, will have to sell its 21 percent ownership in the plant. And in April, NV Energy, the largest utility in Nevada, said it, too, was bailing, ditching its 11 percent share. It remains to be seen if the plant’s operator, the Salt River Project, a Phoenix-based utility, will buy both shares. “The potential exit of NV Energy from (the plant) further complicates an already complex process under way to extend the life of this important Arizona resource,” SRP spokesman Scott Harelson told The Arizona Republic.

Get the Story:
Emily Guerin / The GOAT Blog: Navajos double-down on coal (High Country News 5/6)

Related Stories:
Navajo Nation approves extension for coal-fired power plant (5/1)
Navajo Nation weighing purchase of coal mine in New Mexico (4/30)
Navajo Nation Council weighs controversial lease for coal plant (4/18)
Navajo president delivers annual State of the Nation address (04/16)
Letter: Navajo Nation shouldn't rush into deal for power plant (02/22)
Native Sun News: Deadline set for Navajo Nation power plant (02/15)

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