Navajo Remain Invested In Coal

August 24, 2017
Laurel Morales/KJZZ
One of the Navajo Generating Station's three 750-megawatt generators.

A Navajo coal mine in New Mexico just bought two new locomotives to deliver coal from the mine to the Four Corners Power Plant. The purchase demonstrates an investment in coal by the Navajo government at a time when natural gas has become the preferred low-cost energy source.

There are challenges due to the competitive energy market and regulations,” Navajo Speaker LoRenzo Bates said in a statement. “It is the responsibility of us as leaders to find a balance that allows us to use our coal resources while also incorporating renewable energy.”

The Navajo Mine is the first coal mine owned by a North American tribe.

On the other side of the reservation Salt River Project plans to shut down the Navajo Generating Station, the West’s largest coal fired power plant, at the end of 2019. With the plant closure the tribe loses $30 million a year in power plant revenue and 700 jobs.