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Navajo Leaders Explore Purchasing the Navajo Generating Station

Ryan Heinsius

Two investment firms announced last month they’d no longer pursue the purchase of the Navajo Generating Station. Now, with no other potential buyers, the Navajo Nation is exploring ways to take over the coal-fired plant. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports. 

Navajo leaders are determined to keep NGS and the Kayenta Mine that supplies it open. The tribal government stands to lose up to 30 percent of its revenue if the plant shuts its doors. The Navajo Transitional Energy Company reached out to NGS owners earlier this month to explore a possible purchase on behalf of the tribe.

Navajo Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates won’t elaborate on the discussions, but says he’s unsure whether it’s even possible.

"It’s very complex. There are many, many moving pieces to this deal. And so, as we speak, each of those moving pieces is being considered. Time is not on our side," he says.

The owners of NGS say the closure is still on track and there’s no other serious interest in a sale. A Salt River Project spokesperson says plant will be decommissioned when its lease with the Navajo Nation expires in December 2019.

The Congressional Research Service also determined the Central Arizona Project isn’t legally required to continue buying power from NGS, possibly depriving the plant of its single biggest customer.

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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