Legislation Aims To Boost Economic Opportunities After Closure Of Navajo Power Plant

Sep 13, 2019

Arizona Democratic District One Congressmember Tom O’Halleran has introduced legislation that would provide economic development resources to communities affected by the closure of the Navajo Generating Station and the Kayenta Mine.

Credit npr.org

It’s known as the “Promise Act” and would establish job and skills training programs for displaced employees. The measure is co-sponsored by Representatives Ann Kirkpatrick, Ruben Gallego and Greg Stanton, all Democrats.

In a written statement O’Halleran said “Now that closure of the plant is moving forward, I have introduced legislation to address the challenges that many families and communities are already facing as a result of the decommissioning process.”

Among other things, the measure would direct the Secretary of the Interior to conduct a land reuse study to determine the next best use for the former generating station property and for similar facilities in the future. It would establish a pilot program that provides skills training and education programs for displaced workers who are impacted by ongoing market changes in the energy sector.

O’Halleran said the legislation would start a revenue replacement program for the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe, and affected local governments. It also would instruct the Secretary of the Interior to disperse secured federal economic development funds to local, state, and tribal governments, and implement a program to do so for similar facilities in the future.

According to the news release, the measure has received support from the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe, as well as Coconino and Navajo counties.

Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said “The premature closure of the Navajo Generating Station will have a devastating impact on the Hopi Tribe’s economy as it provides over 80 percent of our operating budget. The federal government cannot act to shut down this vital regional economic driver, that it owns, without taking steps to protect the local communities.”

Hopi Chairman Timothy L. Nuvangyaoma said in a written statement: “The Tribe applauds Representative O’Halleran’s introduction of the Promise Act, which acknowledges the federal government’s role in this situation and helps the local governments weather this storm.”

The Navajo Generating Station (NGS) is a coal-fired power plant located on the Navajo Nation in northern Arizona. NGS is owned in part by the Salt River Project, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, Arizona Public Service, NV Energy, and Tucson Electric Power.

Because of a changing energy market, NGS is slated to close at the end of 2019, displacing many workers and creating an economic void for key communities across rural Arizona.