The American Public Power Association has earned an American Society of Association Executives (ASAE) “Power of A Summit Award” for the Light Up Navajo project, a partnership with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA), which connected hundreds of Navajo households to the electric grid for the first time.
The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American territory in the U.S., with an estimated population of 300,000. Its unelectrified homes make up 75 percent of all unelectrified households in the United States.
The high cost of connecting isolated rural households to the grid, the sensitivity of families to utility costs, and the limited availability of government loans made progress towards greater electrification slow, APPA noted in a Sept. 30 news release.
To expedite electrification projects in the Navajo Nation, APPA partnered with the NTUA to create Light Up Navajo.
Light Up Navajo, which was supported by a $125,000 grant from APPA’s Demonstration of Energy and Efficiency Developments (DEED) program, began in Spring 2019, bringing together volunteer crews from public power utilities across the country to connect Navajo homes to the grid.
In six weeks, the volunteer crews connected more than 230 homes to electricity. More than a dozen members of APPA's staff and more than 130 individuals from 27 utilities (representing 12 states) joined in the effort.
“APPA is thrilled to be recognized by ASAE for the work that we have done in collaboration with NTUA and dozens of other public power utilities on the Light Up Navajo project,” said APPA President and CEO Joy Ditto. “This partnership has already brought electricity to hundreds of Navajo families, and we look forward to continuing to assist with this important project in the future.”
The COVID-19 pandemic delayed plans for Light Up Navajo II, but APPA stands ready to partner with NTUA and the rest of the public power community to continue to bring power to those who have been unable to access this essential modern convenience.