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Study Shows Millions in Subsidies Required to Keep NGS Open

Michael Friberg/Propublica

A new study shows keeping the Navajo Generating Station open would require significant subsides from taxpayers or electricity customers. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The report was produced by the independent think tank the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. It estimates it’ll cost more than $400 million to operate NGS through 2019. Keeping it open until 2030, as tribal officials want, could require a nearly $2.5 billion dollar bailout.

Study author David Schlissel says shuttering NGS is the most viable option because coal prices have dropped significantly.

"The market for power from coal plants has changed dramatically in the last three to five, six years," he says. "Coal is no longer the cheapest source of power. Power produced from natural gas plants is cheaper in many places, and wind and solar are increasingly competitive."

Schlissel says those factors aren’t likely to change in the near future.

The plant’s owners recently voted to close it in 2019 because it’s no longer economical in the competitive energy market. The decision threatens more than 800 jobs and revenue for the Navajo and Hopi Nations.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a frequent contributor to NPR.
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