Officials with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA), Arizona's Salt River Project (SRP), and leaders of the Navajo Nation have agreed to extend an agreement that paved the way for the first-ever, large-scale utility solar farm on the Navajo Nation, the “Kayenta I” facility.
The groups also signed a contract for a new, 200-megawatt (MW) solar resource on the Navajo Nation called “Cameron Solar” that is set to be operational by the end of 2023.
The SRP Board of Directors approved a long-term energy and environmental-attribute agreement through March 2038 from the 27-MW Kayenta I portion of the Kayenta Solar generation facility.
The full facility includes Kayenta I and II and is a 55 MW renewable energy plant that produces green power on the Navajo Nation. The Kayenta facilities help NTUA supplement its power resource mix and maintain some of the lowest consumer electric rates in the region.
Kayenta I first became operational in May 2017 and the duration of the newly expanded agreement for Kayenta I now more closely resembles the long-term duration of the agreement SRP and NTUA have for Kayenta II, which became operational in 2019. The combined Kayenta facilities generate enough energy to power 36,000 Navajo Nation residential homes.
The Jan. 20 ceremony also celebrated the contract signing for Cameron Solar, a 200-MW solar plant resource scheduled to be built and operational on the Navajo Nation by the end of 2023, which contributes to SRP’s goal to add at least 2,025MW of new utility-scale solar to its power system by 2025.
This project supports renewable project development on Navajo Nation and the community’s transition from a coal-dependent economy. The project will infuse roughly $11 million for the land lease as well as an additional $32 million in transmission operations over the next 25 years. The project will also generate approximately $15 million in tax revenues associated with solar and infrastructure, as well as 300-400 local construction jobs that will be 80-90% filled by residents of Navajo descent.
There will also be ongoing scholarship and internship opportunities for Cameron community residents. Any excess proceeds from this development will go back into supporting investment in utility infrastructure and electrification, including the Light Up Navajo initiative, a joint program between NTUA and the American Public Power Association dedicated to the electrification of homes on the Navajo Nation and creation of a better future for local communities.
Light Up Navajo III will start this spring. Interested public power utilities should contact [email protected] for more information on this important event.
SRP noted that it has been recognized by NTUA as a cornerstone member of the Light up Navajo initiative through its work in securing solar power purchase agreements and providing ongoing support to NTUA in the development of renewable projects.
Through its collaboration with NTUA, SRP has also provided technical support in developing interconnection facilities for large-scale renewable development within the Navajo Nation and has provided procurement and financing expertise related to the construction and ownership of such projects.