It appears progress is being made to keep Navajo Generating Station open for two more years.
In a joint press release issued Monday, Salt River Project, which runs NGS, and the Navajo Nation reported they have made significant progress toward a lease extension that will keep NGS open through the end of 2019.
Earlier this year, the owners of NGS, announced they were willing to keep the plant open through the end of 2019 despite losing money due to the rising prices of coal. At the time, the owners announced to keep the plant operating, they would need to negotiate a new lease agreement with the Navajo Nation. The current lease expires Dec. 31, 2019, and the agreement requires SRP to dismantle and remove the power plant before they leave Page.
Since the announcement, representatives from SRP and a task force from the Navajo Nation have been meeting regularly. The two sides announced this week they have made “significant progress” and are hopeful a draft agreement can be reached soon. Once a draft agreement is in place, it will be sent to the Navajo Nation Council and the NGS owners for approval.
While the current plan is to close the power plant at the end of 2019 and have it dismantled and removed by 2021, SRP and the other non-governmental owners have said they would be willing to allow the Navajo Nation or others to continue running the plant if they choose to.
The U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, one of the owners of the plant, has expressed an interest in keeping it open longer, primarily to ensure the jobs and benefits to the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe.
There has also been discussion about asking the Trump administration to take steps to ease the higher costs of coal to make the economics more viable in the long run.
The current owners of NGS include SRP, the plant’s operator, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Arizona Public Service Co., Tucson Electric Power Co. and NV Energy.