The Navajo Generating Station Coal Plant Officially Powers Down. Will Renewables Replace It?

By Julia Pyper | GreenTech Media | November 20, 2019

What does the plant retirement mean for Salt River Project’s energy mix in Arizona – and for clean energy opportunities on Navajo Nation land?

One of the nation’s largest coal plants permanently powered down this week after the owners determined it would be uneconomical to continue operating the facility as natural gas and renewable energy prices continue to drop.

The Navajo Generating Station (NGS) officially shut off at 12:09 p.m. on November 18 when long-time employee Fred Larson opened the Unit 2 breakers, according to the plant operator, Arizona utility Salt River Project (SRP). The plant had been operating since the mid-1970s on land leased from the Navajo Nation, located east of Page, Arizona.

The closure raises questions about the future of SRP’s energy mix and the extent to which renewables will meet the utility’s energy needs. It also presents a new set of challenges and opportunities for the Navajo Nation, which hosted the coal plant for more than 40 years and relied on it for revenue. When the decision to close NGS was made two years ago, over 500 employees were working at the plant — more than 90 percent of whom are Navajo.

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