APS rate increase could mean compensation for tribes impacted by coal mining

By Katherine Davis-Young
Published: Tuesday, October 5, 2021 - 2:58pm
Updated: Wednesday, October 6, 2021 - 1:23pm

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Coverage of tribal natural resources is supported in part by Catena Foundation

The Arizona Corporation Commission is meeting this week to consider whether to allow the state’s largest electric company to raise rates for its customers. The decision could result in new funding for tribal communities.

Coal power plants on Navajo and Hopi land have provided power to Arizona Public Service for years. The Navajo Generating Station in northern Arizona closed two years ago. The Four Corners Power Plant, and San Juan Generating Station, both in New Mexico, are set to close in coming years. Plant closures have resulted in lost jobs, depleted revenue for the tribes, and lasting environmental concerns on tribal lands.

Navajo Generating Station
Andrew Bernier/KJZZ
The Navajo Generating Station near Page, Arizona.

Under its proposed rate plan, APS would agree to pay the Navajo Nation more than $100 million over 10 years to compensate for losses. 

Some tribal members have been demonstrating this week in Phoenix, calling the plan crucial for a just transition away from coal.

In a press release, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez urged the Corporation Commission to approve the plan.

"We need increased action from the Arizona Corporation Commission and the state’s electric utilities to prevent further economic downturn and to act justly and expediently in approving Just Transition funding for the Nation,” Nez said. 

The commission is expected to vote on the APS rate case later this week.

→ Years After Coal Mines Close On Navajo And Hopi Land, Some Are Concerned About Cleanup