Fort Defiance, Arizona, May 29, 2019—Community-owned public power utilities from across the country sent crews to the Navajo Nation over the course of six weeks to bring power—for the first time—to more than 225 families.
The “Light Up Navajo” pilot initiative ran April 8 through May 18 and featured 24 public power utilities. The project was a joint effort of the American Public Power Association and the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA), the public power utility serving the Navajo Nation.
Of the 55,000 homes located on the 27,000 square mile Navajo Nation (roughly the size of West Virginia), approximately 15,000 homes do not have electricity. These represent 75% of all U.S. households that do not have electricity.
“In 2019 you’d think everyone in the world would have power. I couldn’t picture life without it,” said Corey Hersman, a lineworker from the City of Painesville in Ohio. “I think everyone in the line business should come out here and spend a week here. When they turn someone’s power on, it’s unbelievable. Their reaction is unbelievable.”
“I work with students, so I would go to work and I would have to fill up my generator with gas every day, so students would say ‘Mrs. Kenny, you smell like gas.’ It was cute, but I told them why,” said Rethema Kenny, a Navajo resident living in the Sage Brush Springs area of the Nation. “It was hard not having fresh food, fresh milk, fruits, vegetables. We have two kids. We are so grateful that their future is looking bright.”
For more information on the Light Up Navajo project, visit PublicPower.org/LightUpNavajo.