The Navajo Generating Station, a coal-burning power plant, has closed its doors for good. It was run for 45 years in Arizona and was the largest coal plant in the West. USA Today reports that the mine that supplied the plant with coal has also closed — it closed back in August.
The decision to close this giant coal plant was made after years of fighting to keep the plant running and financially profitable. It seems that this was an impossible fight to win and the vote to close came even after a deal had been made with the Environmental Protection Agency to close down ⅓ of the plant and keep the other ⅔ of capacity running.
The plant was jointly owned by utility companies, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the Navajo and Hopi tribes. All parties tried to keep the plant and Kayenta Mine open. $100 million in maintenance was required to keep the plant running, though, and AZ Central reports that there were no buyers to come and save them.
The closure of the mine and the coal plant will hurt the Navajo and Hopi tribes and they will have to figure out a heavily revised budget since they will no longer be receiving royalties from the mine.
An Opportunity for Renewable Energy
It is a law of nature that when something dies, something else is born. The same could be said with the death of this plant. Sometimes it takes closing an old door before a new one opens, and this coal plant closing could be an opportunity to use renewable energy.
GreentechMedia may have shed a bit of light on this in an article on the news. A spokesperson for the Salt River Project, which is one of the utility companies involved, mentioned that the public power entity is replacing its share of the Navajo Generation Station’s generating capacity with natural gas from the Mesquite and Gila River power plants and will also be utilizing additional solar resources.
GreentechMedia also reports that the Salt River Project purchased two new solar and battery storage plants. This made it one of the largest investors in energy storage in the country. The two plants, The Sonoran Energy Center and The Storey Energy Center, will help the utility to meet the summer peak demands while also reducing carbon emissions and providing clean energy to its customers.
One of the major goals of the Salt River Project is to reduce carbon by 90% by 2050 and 60% by 2035. Arizona Public Service Co. is also planning more batteries and they actually split services in the Phoenix area with the Salt River Project. Officials from the Arizona Public Service Co. said back in February that solar and batteries are the cheapest way to meet the power demands in Arizona.
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