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Nation to partner with SRP to develop solar project

WINDOW ROCK

In September, Navajo President Jonathan Nez said he wanted a decision made by the end of the year on how to use the 500 megawatt transmission line. Now 15 days into the new year it’s been determined the Navajo Nation and Salt River Project will partner to seek development of up to 200 megawatts of solar energy on Navajo.

Last month Nez, Vice President Myron Lizer and members of the Resource and Development Committee secured the rights to transmit 500 megawatt-hours of electricity along the transmission lines that were used by the Navajo Generating Station before it closed. The tribe will pay $1.9 million annually, which will come from the Unreserved, Undesignated Fund Balance, to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation for the use of the line.

Salt River Project had issued a request for proposals for up to 400 megawatts of new solar energy, with up to 200 MW sited on the Nation.

“This project is critical as it moves us forward in our goal to invest in more solar energy projects and offer our customers a diverse mix of affordable, emission-free power,” said SRP General Manager and CEO Mike Hummel. “We are also proud to work with the Navajo Nation they facilitate further development of renewable energy.”

In 2017, the transmission lines were part of the extension lease negotiated between the Navajo Nation and the owners of the Navajo Generating Station.

Nez, Lizer and the Hayoolkaal Work Group have met with SRP several times to assist in developing the RFP. This work group includes Division of Natural Resources, Department of Justice, Environmental Protection Agency, Division of Economic Development, Division of Community Development, Navajo Nation Washington Office, and the president’s office.

“It’s the beginning of a new era for the Navajo Nation,” stated Nez. “We recognize that coal-based energy provided many benefits for the workers and their families, but times are changing and energy development is changing. As Diné people, we have always been resilient in times of change, and that’s what we are doing by seeking developers for up to 200 megawatts of solar development with SRP. We are looking to become the leader in renewable energy throughout the Southwest and Indian Country.”

SRP, a community-based, not-for-profit public utility, serves more than one million customers. It is asking respondents to provide competitive solar project proposals that are a minimum of 100 megawatts and up to 200 megawatts in size. Proposed projects must be able to achieve commercial operation by no later than December of 2023 so projects may take advantage of expiring federal tax incentives.

RFPs must be submitted to SRP by May 4, 2020. Selection of new resources is expected to be completed by July 2020.



About The Author

Arlyssa Becenti

Arlyssa Becenti reports on Navajo Nation Council, Business, Fort Defiance Agency, New Mexico State politics and Art/fashion. Her clans are Nát'oh dine'é Táchii'nii, Bit'ahnii, Kin łichii'nii, Kiyaa'áanii. She’s originally from Fort Defiance and has a degree in English Literature from Arizona State University. Before working for the Navajo Times she was a reporter for the Gallup Independent. She can be reached at abecenti@navajotimes.com.

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