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EPA awards grant funding to Navajo solar projects

Solar panels beneath red cliffs
Warren Gretz, NREL 08022

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded more than two hundred thousand dollars in grant funding to three projects in Arizona focused on environmental justice. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports.

The nonprofit group Native Renewables will use the funds to install solar-powered refrigerators for food storage in ten homes on the Navajo and Hopi nations. The group plans to gather data from the families to see how off-grid refrigerators can change transportation habits.

A second project on the Navajo Nation will provide training to technicians on how to install solar panels and off-grid solar water furnaces. It’s run by the Purpose Focused Alternative Learning Corporation with the goal of fostering a “green workforce” in Navajo communities.

Funds also went to a project in Mesa to plant shade trees in a neighborhood battling rising temperatures.

More than half of the funding came from the federal American Rescue Plan, signed into law last year to assist communities experiencing inequities from the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Melissa joined KNAU's team in 2015 to report on science, health, and the environment. Her work has appeared nationally on NPR and been featured on Science Friday. She grew up in Tucson, Arizona, where she fell in love with the ecology and geology of the Sonoran desert.