Navajo Coal Fired Plant Studies Environmental Options

By Laurel Morales
January 20, 2012

Photo courtesy National Park Serivce.
Navajo Generating Station.

FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. -- A coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Nation may be forced to increase water rates to afford required federal pollution controls.

Initially, the utility that runs the Navajo Generating Station thought it might have to shut down. But a new Department of Interior study says it has another option: The Generating Station could remain open if it raises water rates for agricultural users and tribes by up to 16 percent.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has been considering how to lower nitrogen oxide emissions from the Navajo Generating Station that contribute to haze at the Grand Canyon.

The Central Arizona Project uses power from the plant to deliver water through a series of canals to 80 percent of the state's population. It also ensures that water rights settlements with tribes are met. The study says a significant increase in the cost of power from the plant would affect agreements with some tribes.

The public has 20 days to comment on the study. A final decision from the EPA is expected later this year.