PHOENIX, Feb. 6, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Calling continued operation of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) vital for keeping tribal families together, the United Mine Workers of America (UMWA) today announced a broad national labor, industry and consumer coalition that will advocate for keeping the plant online long-term to secure Arizona's energy and water future and protect Navajo and Hopi economies.
The nonprofit coalition, called "Yes to NGS," will inform communities, engage stakeholders
and advocate solutions that could allow NGS operations into the 2040s as envisioned when the plant was built. Founding coalition members represent well over 100,000 U.S. businesses and organizations. Many more partners are expected to join.
As an important first action, the United Mine Workers of America asked the power plant owners and the Central Arizona Project (CAP) Board to step up support for the transition of the power plant to new owners, take long-term power from NGS, and fulfill their obligation to the tribes and taxpayers.
"The Navajo Generating Station was developed on tribal lands by tribal workers who mine the coal and create the power that moves water to benefit families and businesses across Arizona," said Cecil Roberts, President of the United Mine Workers of America.
"The path forward is for the federal government to maintain its ownership position and continue leading the transition to new owners. The Department of the Interior must enforce CAP's obligation to take all of its power from NGS, which provides the mechanism to pay CAP's $1 billion debt to the taxpayers and federal government," Roberts said.
The U.S. Department of the Interior, which owns nearly 25 percent of the plant, has a trust responsibility to Navajo and Hopi people and has said that keeping the plant operating is a major priority. NGS has brought enormous economic benefits to the people of Arizona and will drive significant cost benefits in the years ahead.
"The Navajo Nation is encouraged by the Coalition's advocacy to keep NGS online and to support both the Navajo and Hopi economies. Looking ahead, there is a critical need for support from business and industry partners in the coalition to extend plant operations," said Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye. "A long-term commitment to keep NGS online provides impacted tribal nations sufficient time to diversify their economic revenue streams."
"We're taking the next steps in this challenging journey to keep NGS operating to protect the Navajo working family – the families that provide for themselves, their communities and their Nation," said Navajo Nation Speaker LoRenzo Bates. "When Navajo families have a good source of income, we are stronger. We are stronger for our children, for our extended families and the communities we live in."
A growing body of knowledge shows premature shut down of the plant would spark higher power prices, electric reliability concerns and higher water rates. A recent study released by Energy Ventures Analysis concludes CAP will realize a $370 million savings in power costs through 2030 and municipal and industrial customers will avoid a 30 percent increase in water charges over 10 years if power is purchased from NGS rather than the open market.
NGS was commissioned to run 70 years through 2044 and historically has been among the highest dispatching coal plants in the region, adding resilience to the electric grid at a time when natural gas prices are fluctuating. NGS has one of the lowest emissions profiles of any coal-fueled plant in the region, and more than $1 billion has been invested in environmental compliance over the past two decades.
"NGS is an anchor for the economic success of our city, which is known for recreation and tourism," said Page Mayor Bill Diak. "The plant supports high-paying jobs with good benefits, and we see those dollars flow into the community through the purchase of goods and services and support of our local businesses. You simply can't replace this contribution through minimum wage jobs in the service industry."
Both the plant and mine that fuels it are sited on tribal lands creating jobs and steady revenue for tribal government programs. At risk are 825 direct jobs, more than 85 percent of the Hopi's annual general fund budget and 22 percent of the Navajo's general fund budget. No Hopi village or Navajo chapter will avoid feeling the pain of early closure.
Elements of "Yes to NGS" include a digital education program, a research component, direct outreach and voices of the people. Founding members of "Yes to NGS" include:
– American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity
– American Energy Alliance
– Arizona Mining Association
– Consumer Action for a Strong Economy
– Dyno Noble
– Friends of Coal
– Habitat Management
– The Honorable Bill Diak, Mayor of Page
– National Black Chamber of Commerce
– National Mining Association
– United Mine Workers of America
– Western States Reclamation
SOURCE Yes to NGS