Navajo Generating Station Owners Vote Not To Renew Lease After 2019

By  Will Stone
Published: Monday, February 13, 2017 - 4:19pm
Updated: Tuesday, February 14, 2017 - 2:46pm

After months of speculation, the decision is in – owners of the Navajo Generating Station voted Monday afternoon not to keep the plant running past 2019. The giant, coal-fired plant in northeast Arizona provides hundreds of jobs, as well as revenue to the Navajo and Hopi governments. But the plant was also becoming too costly to operate – KJZZ’s Will Stone has been covering the story and joins me now.

Owners of the Navajo Generating Station, a massive coal-fired plant in northeast Arizona, will not keep it running past 2019.

On Monday, after months of speculation, Salt River Project, Arizona Public Service, NV Energy and Tucson Electric Power announced they would not renew their lease with the Navajo Nation, but will try to keep it open until that expires in December 2019. If they cannot reach a deal, they will begin decommissioning the plant this year.

In a statement, an SRP spokesperson said the owners “do not make the decision lightly," but that the energy market was ultimately the decider.

Cheap natural gas has made the coal plant less economically viable in recent years. SRP has the biggest ownership stake, followed by the federal government, Arizona Public Service, NV Energy and Tucson Electric Power.

The decision provides "the Nation and others with the potential to operate the plant beyond 2019 should they so choose," according to the statement.

The federal government, represented by the Bureau of Reclamation, said it would like to see if it can “find a path forward” before discussing the possibility of a permanent shutdown.

The plant and nearby mine directly employ more than 800 people and supply revenue to the Hopi and Navajo governments.

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