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New Year Brings New Solar Plant for Navajo Nation

The Navajo Nation is building a utility-scale solar farm on tribal property in northern Arizona that will serve 7,700 homes once it is completed. (jutta/morguefile)
The Navajo Nation is building a utility-scale solar farm on tribal property in northern Arizona that will serve 7,700 homes once it is completed. (jutta/morguefile)
December 29, 2015

FORT DEFIANCE, Ariz. - The Navajo Nation is going green by building its first utility-scale solar farm on tribal property in northern Arizona.

The facility, to be located on 300 acres near Monument Valley, is expected to generate enough power for 7,700 homes after it is completed in late 2016. Deenise Biscenti, public affairs director for the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, said building the solar plant is part of a long-term strategy to change the way the tribes deliver power.

"For the past several years, NTUA has explored renewable-energy resource possibilities," she said. "This solar farm is our move into that field, to establish a green economy for the Navajo Nation."

According to Navajo officials, the $64 million plant, to be built with a combination of federal loans and tax credits, will create about 100 jobs during construction and a handful of permanent positions after completion.

Biscenti said the Navajo Nation decided to build the solar farm itself rather than hire an outside company.

"Because we are the primary utility provider here on the Nation," she said, "we felt it should be NTUA to take the major step into building a facility of this size."

She said the Navajo Nation, which encompasses parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah, has not previously generated its own power but purchased it elsewhere. Biscenti added that the utility's 40,000 electric customers will not see a rate increase when the solar farm becomes operational.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ