Friday, June 01, 2018

Power plant closure hurts tribes that offered land, energy

For Navajo and Hopi people, preserving skilled jobs and tribal revenues to keep their economies running matters a lot. Yet these sovereign nations face a very real economic threat in the months ahead. We should all pay far more attention to the alarming economic impacts that early closure of the Navajo Generating Station will have on Navajo and Hopi people. They are the ones who have offered their land and energy resources to sustain our economy for decades. They are the backbone of the supply system for Arizona’s energy and water. These traditional families in the northernmost part of our state clearly have the most to lose if the plant is forced to shut down decades before Congress intended. We cannot allow this to happen. When the late U.S. Sen. Carl Hayden, D-Ariz., led the effort to create the Central Arizona Project in the 1960s, the federal government loaned about $4 billion. The Central Arizona Project has an obligation to the federal government – and the American taxpayer – to repay the construction debt, which remains north of $1 billion. Revenues that come from the sale of surplus power are used for that purpose. Why would we retire the asset the federal government designed to pay back the debt? It makes no sense to close the Navajo Generating Station more than 20 years ahead of schedule. Without baseload power from the Navajo Generating Station, our electric grid becomes less reliable, and we will certainly lose thousands of direct and indirect jobs, many of which are held by Native Americans.The value of these jobs is spread far and wide across tribal communities, supporting immediate and extended families...MORE

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