PHOENIX, June 6, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Citing a statutory and fiduciary obligation to take power only from the Navajo Generating Station (NGS), the Navajo Nation, the Hopi Tribe and the United Mine Workers of America today called on the Central Arizona Project (CAP) board for a 90-day pause on the process to purchase power from sources other than NGS.
At a rally at the capitol, hundreds of miners, power plant workers, tribal employees and families joined leaders questioning why the CAP board would rush into long-term power agreements that will harm the transition of the plant to new owners and will cost more than what NGS can deliver under new ownership. New issues raised by the U.S. Department of the Interior also call into question the CAP board's legal authority to even consider alternative power.
"We're worth 90 days," said Hopi Chairman Timothy Nuvangyaoma. "The Hopi are pleased Interior has stepped up to remind the board of the legal covenants that govern them. The bottom line is, let's slow this process down, answer important questions, and give the prospective new owners some time to deliver."
The U.S. Department of the Interior, which owns nearly 25 percent of the plant, has said it is committed to working with all parties to keep the plant operational in support of good paying tribal jobs. NGS has brought enormous economic benefits to the people of Arizona and will drive significant cost benefits under new ownership, according to the coalition.
In a recent letter from Interior to the CAP board, the importance of NGS is highlighted: "While the department recognizes that many circumstances have changed since passage of the 1968 act, including enactment of the 2004 Arizona Water Settlements Act, it currently believes that the 1968 act remains the applicable governing authority and must be addressed in any decision relating to future sources of project power," Assistant Secretary Tim Petty said.
"The Navajo Nation supports a 90-day pause on the process to purchase power from sources other than NGS," said Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye. "We should continue to work to find solutions to keep the plant operating while supporting both the Navajo economy and families."
Based on contractual documents, no action is needed under the board's current power proposals until September. Middle River Power continues advancing discussions with key stakeholders toward an acquisition of NGS and is quickly working to finalize the major agreements.
"Hasty decisions will put thousands of good-paying tribal jobs at risk, hurt tribal economies and tear families apart," said United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts. "We're talking about the future of real people and real families who have given their land and energy to create quality of life for families across Arizona. Let's use common sense, think about what's at stake, and give this process another 90 days."
NGS was sanctioned by Congress to power the CAP and adds reliability and resilience to the electric grid at a time when natural gas prices are fluctuating. The plant was developed on tribal lands using tribally owned coal and commissioned to run 70 years to create jobs and sustaining revenues for the Navajo and Hopi.
The operations support 845 mine and power plant jobs, 350 Hopi jobs, and thousands of support jobs that are largely held by tribal people. If NGS is forced to shut down prematurely, at risk are 85 percent of the Hopi's general fund budget and 22 percent for the Navajo.
NGS historically has been among the most highly utilized plants in the region, providing nearly $900 million in power cost savings to the CAP over the last 15 years and is expected to deliver hundreds of millions of dollars of additional savings in the years ahead, according to energy analysts.
"Yes to NGS" is a broad coalition of tribal, labor, industry and consumer groups representing more than 100,000 U.S. businesses and organizations. Visit Yes to NGS.org, Yes to NGS on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter @YestoNGS to learn more.
SOURCE Yes to NGS Coalition