In an effort to support solar for more residents of the Navajo Nation, Salt River Project has agreed to purchase solar photovoltaic Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) from the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA), an enterprise of the Navajo Nation. The $220,000, five-year purchase agreement will be used to acquire additional off-grid systems for tribal residents.
A REC is proof that 1 megawatt-hour of electricity was generated from a renewable-energy resource. Once the electricity is generated and the provider has fed the electricity into the grid or the off-grid user has utilized the electricity, the RECs can be sold on the open market as a commodity.
“This is an opportunity that we see as a direct benefit for our solar energy customers,” said Navajo Tribal Utility Authority General Manager Walter Haase. “With this partnership, SRP is helping us help families who otherwise might not be able to have any access to electrical power. This program will provide that basic access.”
Since 1999, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority has offered solar photovoltaic power systems to its low-income residential customers who do not have access to the electric grid. Currently, NTUA rents 263 solar photovoltaic systems to Navajo tribal members. NTUA is also adding solar systems adjacent to some of its facilities. The system in Chinle is completed and the systems in Crownpoint, Fort Defiance and Shonto are expected to be completed later this year.
In February 2012, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority also initiated a partnership with the owners of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS), of which SRP owns a 21.7% share, on a project to extend electrical power to families living within the LeChee area. The project will bring electricity to more than 62 LeChee-area homes over a three-year period and will be joint-funded between NTUA, NGS, and the LeChee Chapter, with NGS owners contributing $2 million in funding over three years beginning in 2012.
“SRP is excited about the opportunity to partner with NTUA in providing more people on the Navajo Nation with access to electricity,” said Charlie Duckworth, Senior Director of SRP Energy Management. “The purchase adds to the number of distributed photovoltaic systems available on the Navajo Nation and improves the welfare of the Navajo people by providing more tribal members access to electricity.”