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Navajo Generating Station worth $13B to Navajo Nation over next three decades, study finds


From the April 30, 2013 issue of Public Power Daily

Originally published April 30, 2013

By Jeannine Anderson
Editor
The Navajo Generating Station in northern Arizona will help contribute nearly $13 billion to the Navajo economy and help support thousands of jobs from 2020 through 2044, if agreements can be reached to keep the plant operating beyond 2019, according to a study prepared for the Navajo Nation and Salt River Project by the L William Seidman Research Institute at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.

Located on the Navajo Nation, near Page, Ariz., the 2,250-MW coal-fired power plant is one of the largest in the Southwest, but it faces challenges, SRP said. Its lease and various rights of way with the Navajo Nation must be extended and the coal supply contract with Peabody Energy renegotiated; and the plant faces rulemakings from the Environmental Protection Agency that may force it to install costly emission controls.

The Navajo plant, together with the Kayenta Mine -- the plant's coal supplier -- will contribute $12.94 billion to the Navajo Nation's economy through sustained jobs and wages if the plant remains operational through 2044, according to the ASU report, Navajo Generating Station and Kayenta Mine: An Economic Impact Analysis for the Navajo Nation.

The plant's lease, along with rights of way with the Navajo Nation, are set to expire around 2019. The Navajo Nation Council is currently considering legislation to extend those agreements. The plant's owners are also renegotiating their coal supply contract with Peabody Energy. The EPA has proposed rules under the Clean Air Act that would require pollution controls at the plant to address regional haze.

NGS currently employs about 518 people, nearly 86 percent of whom are Native American, said the Salt River Project, which operates the plant. The Kayenta Mine has more than 400 employees, of whom about 90 percent also are Native American.

"I have been saying we need to protect existing jobs on the Navajo Nation," said Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly. "This study shows that the plant and the mine not only support existing jobs at the plant and mine, but support other jobs in the area."

The report is available at www.ngspower.com.

The study on the plant's economic impact on the Navajo Nation is separate from a 2012 study from ASU that concluded that NGS and the Kayenta Mine would provide more than $20 billion in economic contributions throughout the state for the period 2011-2044. The new study examined the economic effects exclusively for the Navajo Nation.

The Navajo Generating Station provides electricity to customers in Arizona, Nevada and California, and energy to pump water through the Central Arizona Project. Participants in the plant include SRP, which runs the plant; the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation; Arizona Public Service Co.; Los Angeles Department of Water and Power; Tucson Electric Power Co. and NV Energy.

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