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Ginormous Navajo Generating Station coal plant to shut down soon

Photo: Myrabella / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 4.0

The Navajo Generating Station in Paige AZ on Navajo land generates 2,250 MW of coal power, equal to the output of some nuclear plants. Coal of course is incredibly dirty and is now more expensive than less dirty natural gas plants. So, the utilities that own the NGS have decided to shut it down.

Let’s be clear, the closure is primarily due to coal no longer being cost-efficient and not over environmental concerns. About 750 employees, mostly Navajo, who work at the coal plant and coal mind will lose their jobs. This is a huge hit for them. I hope somehow, someway, new jobs can be found for them.

Salt River Project bought 21.2% of NGS from LA DWP is 2015, raising its share to 42.9% It thought the plant could run until 2044. But the low price of natural gas cratered those plans.

When SRP made that deal in 2015, officials said it would help keep the plant running through 2044 because they could “retire” the Los Angeles and Nevada portions of the plant, or one generator, in 2019 to comply with environmental regulations. That would allow another 24 years of operations at the two remaining generators.

But cheap natural gas has thrown a wrench into those plans. Over the course of the past year, SRP has gone from fighting to keep the plant open to arguing for its closure.

Also holding a stake in the outcome is the Central Arizona Project, which uses some of the Bureau of Reclamation’s share of the power to run pumps on the canal to bring Colorado River water to Phoenix, Tucson and tribes in central Arizona.

CAP released a presentation Monday that concludes it would have saved $38.5 million in 2016 if it had bought power on the open market rather than from the Navajo Generating Station.”

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