The Navajo Generating Station is a coal-fired plant in Northern Arizona that supplies electricity beyond the state’s borders, into California and Nevada. The plant also powers water pumps for the Colorado River. Because of those interstate interests, the LA Department of Water and Power owns a sizeable chunk of the plant, over 20%. But when it comes up for review in 2019, the plant could shut down.
Federal regulators will likely ask the power plant to meet cleaner emission standards, to reduce pollution known as “light extinction” over the Grand Canyon, less than 100 miles away. Meeting those standards could cost over $1 billion in capital improvements.
However, the plant might not have the resources it needs to get cleaner and greener. DWP may pull out in 2019 to save money. If operators can’t find other sources of revenue, the plant could shut down entirely.
A shutdown could have a big impact on Arizona’s economy. A study from Arizona State University projects that closing the Navajo Generating Station would cost Arizona 3,000 jobs a year, mostly held by Navajo tribe members. Not to mention $20 billion between over the next 30 years.
California’s growing population wants energy and water. Arizonans want jobs and revenue. And Americans want the Grand Canyon to stay clean and beautiful. Which interests will prevail? And can there be a compromise between environmental standards, regulation and the economy?
Roger Clark, Program Director, Grand Canyon Trust
Erny Zah, Director of Communications, Navajo Nation’s Office of President and Vice President