The Navajo Generating Station in northern Arizona will help contribute nearly $13 billion to the Navajo economy and help support thousands of jobs from 2020 through 2044 – if agreements can be reached to keep the plant operating beyond 2019 – according to a study prepared for the Navajo Nation and Salt River Project by the L William Seidman Research Institute at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University.
Located on the Navajo Nation, near Page, NGS is one of the largest and most important suppliers of electricity in the Southwest.
According to the ASU report, Navajo Generating Station and Kayenta Mine: An Economic Impact Analysis for the Navajo Nation, NGS and the Kayenta Mine, the plant’s coal supplier, will contribute $12.94 billion to the Navajo Nation economy through sustained jobs and wages if the plant was to remain operational through 2044.
NGS currently employs about 518 people, nearly 86 percent of whom are Native American. The Kayenta Mine has more than 400 employees, of whom about 90 percent are also Native American.
“I have been saying we need to protect existing jobs on the Navajo Nation,” said Navajo Nation President Ben Shelly. “This study shows that the plant and the mine not only support existing jobs at the plant and mine, but support other jobs in the area.”
The ASU report examined the direct, indirect and induced economic impact of NGS and Kayenta Mine on the Navajo Nation using the IMPLAN model employed by the state of Arizona to examine various economic projections. A full copy of the report is available at www.ngspower.com.
The study on the plant’s economic impact on the Navajo Nation is separate from a 2012 study from ASU that concluded that NGS and the Kayenta Mine will provide more than $20 billion in economic contributions throughout the state for the period measured from 2011 to 2044. The new study examined the economic effects exclusively for the Navajo Nation.
Despite its economic importance, a number of significant challenges threaten the future viability of NGS. To ensure future operations of NGS, the plant’s lease and various rights of way with the Navajo Nation must be extended and the coal supply contract with Peabody Energy renegotiated prior to any additional costly emission controls from the EPA.
The plant’s lease and various rights of way with the Navajo Nation are set to expire around 2019 and the Navajo Nation Council is currently considering legislation to extend them. In addition, the plant’s owners are also renegotiating the coal supply contract with Peabody Energy. Perhaps most significantly, the U.S. Environmental Protection has proposed additional and costly environmental rules to address regional visibility.
NGS is a coal-fired power plant that provides electricity to customers in Arizona, Nevada and California, and energy to pump water through the Central Arizona Project. The participants in NGS include the plant’s operator, SRP; the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation; Arizona Public Service Co.; Los Angeles Department of Water and Power; Tucson Electric Power Co. and NV Energy.