As 2021 draws to a close, the Navajo Power team can look back at the obstacles, challenges and opportunities this past year presented, and be grateful that we begin 2022 in a stronger position than ever.
First, the challenges. COVID-19 continued to wreak havoc on tribal communities and the energy industry, and Navajo Power was no exception. Our hearts go out to all of our families, friends and partners who’ve battled COVID and lost loved ones through the pandemic.
Important renewable energy projects were also put on hold or outright cancelled, as Tribal and state governments redirected resources towards fighting the pandemic, while utility, construction and engineering workers were increasingly in short supply. However, through sacrifice and dedication, the Navajo Power team was able to not only weather the financial storm, but thrive – continuing to advance the development of it’s projects and fundraising efforts.
This is in no small part thanks to our incredible partners, who have helped us raise nearly $10 million to bring our vision of generating $3 billion of clean energy infrastructure investments into Tribal communities by 2030 that much closer to reality. This includes an anchor $3 million program-related investment (PRI) by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), who took on equity risk but structured the deal as flexible debt in order for Navajo Power to retain Native ownership of the company and advance it’s mission of maximizing economic benefits for partner communities.
Other partners that deserve thanks for their faith and commitment to Navajo Power include the Candide Group, who helped design and set terms for the Impact Loan Facility, as well as the Navajo Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI), The Schmidt Foundation, Grove Foundation, Sierra Club Foundation, Catena Foundation, Wallace Global Fund and Halloran Philanthropies, as well as a number of individual angel investors supported by Impact Assets and Align Impact.
All in all, the entire Navajo Power team and partners were able to overcome numerous challenges in 2021 and record numerous accomplishments. Several important renewable energy projects that moved closer to fruition in 2021, projects we fully expect to make great progress in 2022.
Painted Desert Power, an up to 750 MWac solar project on the Navajo Nation, achieved major site control and environmental permitting-related milestones in 2021, putting the project on strong footing to receive all permits and achieve full site control in 2022.
Dibe Ni Tsaa Energy, an up to 400 MWac solar project also on the Navajo Nation, seeks to assist the Navajo community with a just transition from coal to renewable energy in the wake of the closure of Navajo Generating Station in 2019 and the planned closure of the San Juan Generating Station in 2022.
Navajo Power’s conversations with the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians continued to develop and we expect a strong relationship going forward. On December 11th, Navajo Power presented at the Torres Martinez Desert Cahuilla Indians Fiesta in Thermal, CA, demonstrating in detail how solar technology works with sample layouts for potential projects at Torres Martinez, and answering questions from Tribal members and leadership.
And Navajo Power has made significant inroads with various Pueblo tribes in New Mexico in regards to community solar. The company has made contacts with various Pueblo government leaders, laying the groundwork for future partnership on New Mexico’s new community solar program, which has special carve-outs for tribal projects. As New Mexico’s leadership, starting with the Governor, has made the transition to renewable energy a top priority, we are excited to work with the Pueblos, the Navajo Nation and others to ensure Tribes fully realize the economic and social benefits of this clean energy revolution.
In April 2021, the company hosted the second annual Navajo Power Energy Roundtable, which featured Jonathan Nez, Navajo Nation President and Wahleah Johns, Director of the Office of Indian Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy, as well as numerous other dignitaries, energy experts and Tribal authorities. The landmark event explored several opportunities for clean energy development by Tribes, utilities and renewable energy stakeholders. It also reinforced the historic and critical role Indian Country has played in powering the American West – and will continue to do so in the future.
Navajo Power was also very proud to launch Navajo Power Home (NPH), a joint
venture with Iluméxico dedicated to helping solve the energy access challenges for Navajo
households. Iluméxico is a best in class, award winning social enterprise that has deployed over
25,000 off-grid energy systems across Mexico and Colombia. The NPH team has completed the pilot with four Navajo households from four different communities, and over 100 additional families have expressed interest in the off-grid solar service. We expect Navajo Power Home to grow exponentially in 2022 due to overwhelming demand.
In all, 2021 was a very challenging, but very fulfilling year. We at Navajo Power are thrilled to have so much to look forward to in 2022. Thank you for all your support, and we wish you a blessed and happy holiday season, and a safe New Year!