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Study Predicts Millions in Losses for Navajo Nation After Power Plant Investment


The Navajo Nation could lose $170 million in the next decade on its investment in a New Mexico coal-fired power plant. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, an energy research group examined the long-term economics of the deal.

The study by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis cites declining energy production at the aging Four Corners Plant. Low long-term natural gas prices and the growth of renewable power sources could also make the generating station less profitable. The report predicts losses for the tribe of more than 20 million dollars a year between 2020 and 2027.

The Navajo Transitional Energy Company acquired a 7 percent stake in the plant last July for a reported $70 million. It’s the only time a Navajo Nation-owned enterprise has invested in such a facility. The Energy Company calls the study flawed and says there’s strong demand for the power produced at Four Corners.

It comes as the tribe considers purchasing the Navajo Generating Station near Page, which is set to close in December 2019. Its current owners voted to shutter the plant as coal-produced energy has become more expensive.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered 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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