Navajo Generating Station’s power lines could benefit solar and wind development, energy experts say
Large transmission lines used to move electricity from the Navajo Generating Station could be a major advantage for developing solar or wind projects in the Four Corners region should the coal plant close, energy experts said Tuesday.
The coal plant near Page could close as early as this year or stay open through 2019, when the current owners have said they will no longer operate it. There is a remote chance new buyers could run the plant beyond then, but so far no proposal along those lines has been made public.
When the 2,250-megawatt coal plant shuts down, it will leave major power lines in the region underused, and utilities that own the lines would have the opportunity to take power from renewable-energy projects that could be built in the area, officials said.
“This is clearly a historic opportunity,” said Jessie Audette Muniz, senior director of project development for Apex Clean Energy, which has worked on solar and wind projects in the West. “It is certainly an interesting opportunity for the industry and for supporters of clean energy in general.”
Audette Muniz participated in a conference call on the subject sponsored by Interwest Energy Alliance, Northern Arizona University and Utah Clean Energy.
Many opponents of coal-fired power plants have suggested renewable-energy projects to help replace the jobs, lease payments and economic contributions the coal plant and Kayenta Mine make to the northern Arizona communities, which is substantial. More than 800 people work at the plant and mine, mostly members of the Navajo and Hopi tribes.