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Flagstaff and Hopi Partner on Renewable Energy Project

The City of Flagstaff is partnering with the Hopi Tribe on a large-scale renewable energy project. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, it’s designed to provide tribal revenue and help the city achieve its goal of going completely green.

Under the deal, a developer would lease Hopi-owned lands outside the city limits along Interstate-40, and finance a 19-megawatt facility, most likely to be solar. The city would then purchase the electricity for use in government buildings.

"The City of Flagstaff utilizes quite a bit of electricity throughout the year, and most of that is because of our water services," says Flagstaff’s sustainability manager Nicole Antonopoulos. "But that 19 megawatts is going to give us the majority of our needs."

Antonopoulos says the city currently relies on renewable energy for less than 10 percent of its municipal operations, but has a goal to raise it to 100 percent.

The city will begin vetting developers next month and the project could be built in the next two to three years. Arizona Public Service Company and the state’s Corporation Commission would each have to approve the plan.

According to the Hopi Tribe, the project could generate up to $114,000 a year along with other financial benefits. It comes as the Navajo Generating Station is slated to close in 2019, threatening more than 80 percent of tribe’s revenue.

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 Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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