Thursday, May 7th
Navajo Nation, Arizona — Navajo Power, Public Benefit Corporation, has secured a $4.5M seed financing round, and also cemented a partnership with sPower to co-develop some of its assets on the Navajo Nation. Navajo Power is a native majority owned clean energy developer whose mission is to maximize economic benefits and job creation for their partner communities. The company has sites under development across the Navajo Nation and on other tribal lands.
As the economic consequences of coal closures deepen for the Navajo Nation, and the global COVID pandemic spreads, Navajo Power continues to press forward with its vision to upgrade the Navajo Nation’s historic role as an electricity provider powering the growth of the American West through the development of gigawatts of clean energy projects.
“We are working hard to create jobs and build resilient infrastructure for our Nation and for the greater Western region,” said Brett Isaac, founder and CEO. “Navajo has perhaps the highest unemployment in the country at 65% – that’s pre-COVID. It is clearly going up due to the virus. We need to put people back to work in creating the clean energy future. Developing some of the biggest projects in the world and maximizing the benefits for our communities can provide the resources needed to fund a wave of local infrastructure and community economic development initiatives. Clean energy can be our bridge.”
Isaac noted the company is also working to locate solar panel assembly operations on the Nation, and organize the deployment of off-grid energy systems for the more than 15,000 Navajo households who still don’t have access to electricity, seeing both as strong job creators.
The investment round was led by the Candide Group and the Navajo Nation through their Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), along with Align Impact and a strong cohort of other investors. Along with Isaac, the company was co-founded by: Dan Rosen, Mosaic founder, Chairman, and former CEO; Clara Pratte, former Novacorp CEO and former Chief of Staff of the Navajo Nation; and, Josh Finn, formerly of SunPower’s Project Finance team. Chris Deschene, Navajo Power’s General Counsel, ran the tribal program for the Department of Energy and formerly served in the Arizona House of Representatives. Navajo Power was incubated by New Energy Nexus, whose CEO, Danny Kennedy, serves as an advisor to the company.
Morgan Simon, Founding Partner at Candide Group said, “As impact investors, we work with families, foundations, athletes, and influencers who want their money working for justice. That means we see great potential in companies like Navajo Power that are leading what many call a ‘just transition’ to clean energy. Native communities across the country previously faced all the environmental damages of fossil fuels, with minimal economic benefit. We are thrilled to support companies like Navajo Power that are flipping this equation–by generating utility-scale clean energy, with tangible, shared economic benefit.”
The company’s main innovation is not a novel solar technology or a new way to store energy, but instead the creation of a new economic model for energy development. “The past few decades of the clean energy industry have focused on becoming the lowest cost source of energy.” Dan Rosen, co-founder and co-CEO, said. “This has been achieved. Now the goal must become to distribute the economic benefits as widely as possible and not follow the path of industrial capitalism, but create something new.”
“Coal was the backbone of the Navajo Economy for many years,” said Jerry Williams, who is the Chapter President of the Lechee community on Navajo, where the Navajo Generating station used to run. “I myself worked at Navajo Generating Station for 40 years, along with 460 other Navajo workers at the plant and another 400 at Peabody Coal mine. As we move forward and transition to renewable energy, we can’t forget about the communities and workers who provided energy for the West and the world. And we need a model that provides a better deal for our communities. That’s what got me excited about Navajo Power and creating something in Lechee and Navajo as a whole.”
Navajo Power also announced that they have formed a co-development partnership with sPower, the largest owner of solar assets in the US. The companies are developing a 200 megawatt project on the Navajo Nation that they plan to expand to at least 750 megawatts over the next 5 years.
“We are excited to work with Navajo Power to expand renewable energy projects on Navajo. The Navajo Nation has potential to be a leader of renewables and accelerate the transition to a 21st century economy powered by clean energy,” said Ryan Creamer, CEO of sPower.
For more information, please visit www.navajopower.com or call Navajo Power’s Offices at (480) 524-0123.