APS Commits $127 Million To Navajo Nation, Promises Renewable Energy And Expanded Grid Access
Arizona's largest utility APS announced a $127 million cash commitment to the Navajo Nation over the next 10 years.
The money is meant to provide transitional support to communities affected by the closure and environmental effects of the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station.
Navajo environmental activist Nicole Horseherder, with the grassroots organization Tó Nizhóní Ání helped arrange the agreement to help the communities.
“It represents the beginning of the obligation that utilities and other stakeholders have to the communities that have helped build their profits,” Horseherder said.
The coal-powered plants have left significant environmental pollution on Navajo land, as well as using up scarce water resources and causing widespread negative health effects.
Horseherder says she hopes this money is used to repay the people whose lives were affected by those negative impacts.
“There are people who have lost their land space because of these operations, they have lost their water sources, they have lost their homes, they have lost their livelihood," Horseherder said. "I really hope that they focus the funds to those communities that have been impacted the most by these operations.”
As part of the agreement, APS will build 600 megawatts of renewable energy sources in the Navajo Nation, as well as invest $10 million in connecting isolated homes and communities to the power grid.
“The Four Corners region is being hit hard economically as coal goes away, and we deserve to be part of the economic diversification now recognized by APS and the Navajo Nation," Mike Eisenfeld, Energy and Climate Program Manager for San Juan Citizens Alliance in Farmington, N.M. said in a press release. "After nearly 60 years of relying on coal at Four Corners Power Plant, investment in local communities will shape more sustainable energy decisions in the Four Corners region.”
The proposal still needs to be approved by the Arizona Corporation Commission.