Navajo Power CEO Sees 10 GW Renewable Potential Across the Navajo Nation

April 22, 2020 II William Driscoll

While an Arizona utility solicits bids for a 200 MW solar project within the Navajo Nation, the near-term potential is 10 GW, says Navajo Power CEO Brett Isaac.

“We believe you can go to 10 gigawatts of renewable resources” across the Navajo Nation, as coal plant retirements in the area open up transmission capacity, said Navajo Power CEO Brett Isaac, in a pv magazine interview. The Navajo Nation extends across parts of Arizona, Utah and New Mexico.

Navajo Power is preparing a bid to build 200 MW of solar power, after the Arizona utility Salt River Project issued a bid request specifying solar on Navajo Nation lands. The solar project selected by the utility will help make up for generation capacity lost last November when the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station closed; the utility will pay the Navajo Nation for the use of its transmission lines.

The 10 GW renewables potential, Isaac said, will emerge as three other coal plants in the area retire, largely due to the “price competitiveness” of solar, wind and storage projects. The three plants are the San Juan Generating Station, which is scheduled to close in 2022, the Cholla Power Plant, “just off the Navajo Nation along I-40,” where one of the three units will retire this year, and the Four Corners power plant on Navajo Nation lands. The Four Corners plant is scheduled to close in 2031, but Isaac said “the economics will probably force” an earlier closure.

Solar capacity could exceed the capacity of the transmission lines fanning out from these coal plants, if storage were added or if a high inverter loading ratio were used.

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