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More Than 700 Navajo Homes Connected To Electric Grid Using CARES Act Funding

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The Navajo Nation has tapped funds it received for COVID-19 relief to connect more than 700 households to the electrical grid. It’s part of a multi-year effort to reduce the approximately 15,000 homes without electricity on the reservation. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority is using nearly $40 million from the federal CARES Act to improve power lines and grid capacity. The tribe had initially intended to bring power to about 500 homes before the end of the year, but was able to exceed the goal as crews worked long hours over several months.

Roughly a quarter of the 55,000 households on the Navajo Nation don’t have electricity. It prevents access to running water, reliable lighting, heating and cooling, as well as modern refrigeration.

The Utility Authority is also installing solar power systems in 200 homes, and several families have received bathroom additions and water cisterns with CARES Act funding.

It’s all part of sweeping plan approved by the tribe in August for electrical, water, infrastructure and broadband projects. In all, $714 million was allocated to the Navajo Nation from last year’s CARES Act.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom 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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