Owners of the Navajo Generating Station say they’ve permanently shut down one of the plant’s three units. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, it comes as operators prepare to close NGS entirely.
The Salt River Project, the plant’s primary owner, shut down unit three Friday. That means, NGS is now producing about 40 percent of its total production capacity of 2,250 megawatts.
"It really allows us to bring the plant down in an economic fashion in stages that allow for the most efficient and safe operation of the plant … that also reduces stress on the units and reduces the potential for mechanical issues," says SRP spokesperson Scott Harelson.
NGS stopped taking deliveries of coal from the nearby Kayenta Mine when it closed last month. Plant operators are now only using on-site stockpiles, and SRP estimates enough coal remains to power the two functioning units until approximately November 10th. That’s more than a month earlier than previous estimates for the NGS’s closure. About 500 mostly contract employees are still running the plant.
Environmental groups applauded unit three’s closure, and say they’re hopeful for a continued transition to renewable energy on the Navajo Nation and in the Southwest.