Officials with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, Salt River Project and the Navajo Nation leaders joined together on Aug. 27 to officially break ground on the second phase of the Kayenta Solar generation facility in Arizona.
NTUA and its wholly-owned subsidiary NTUA Generation Inc. will expand the Kayenta Solar facility to include Kayenta II, a 28-megawatt addition, which is expected to be commercial by June 2019, NTUA and SRP noted.
The Kayenta II project serves as a platform for future ventures in which NTUA and SRP will work together toward the development of up to 500 megawatts of renewable energy projects over the next five to 10 years within the Navajo Nation to further support their goal of charting their own energy future, NTUA and SRP said.
“Extending electricity to homes without has always been our goal as well as our challenge,” said NTUA General Manager Walter Haase. He said that Kayenta II is a catalyst in that direction “and will help us to improve the standard of living for many Navajo families.”
“This project represents a significant addition to SRP’s growing list of renewable resources and we are extremely honored to work alongside NTUA to bring this amazing facility online,” said SRP Vice President John Hoopes. “We look forward to carrying on our decades-long partnership with the Navajo Nation as we pursue new opportunities together through the Kayenta Solar Facility and other significant efforts.”
Through the partnership with NTUA, SRP will provide technical support in developing interconnection facilities for large-scale renewable development within the Navajo Nation, as well as provide procurement and financing expertise related to the development and ownership of such projects.
“The Kayenta II Solar Farm is critical in providing energy to our elders and rural residents,” said Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye. “By building the capacity of the Kayenta Solar Farm to produce an additional 28 megawatts of energy, the Nation can power an additional 18,000 homes.”
Currently, the 27.3-MW Kayenta Solar Project (Kayenta I) provides electricity to Navajo communities served by NTUA, generating power for an estimated 18,000 homes. At the height of construction, close to 284 people of whom 85% were of Navajo descent, worked on the project. It is expected that Kayenta II will employ a greater number of Navajo for the workforce.
In addition, the Navajo workforce was paid $5.2 million and received over 4,700 hours of specialized training in solar utility construction for the Kayenta Solar Project. The construction also generated $3,017,055 in taxes paid to the Navajo Nation.
Overall, it is estimated that $15.6 million in economic activity occurred within the surrounding communities during the construction period.
Kayenta II is expected to produce similar economic benefits and salaries to the region.
Since 1959, NTUA has supplied electricity, water, natural gas, wastewater treatment and photovoltaic services to residents throughout the 27,000 square-mile Navajo Nation. NTUA serves approximately 41,259 electric customers.
SRP is a community-based, not-for-profit public power utility and the largest provider of electricity in the greater Phoenix metropolitan area, serving more than one million customers.