Navajo Generating Station

A triple fraud. The leasing, the compensation, the ending. The story of the Navajo Generating Station is also the story of the Native Americans tricky relationship with mining industry corporations. In the Sixties, the Peabody Energy company obtained from the Hopi Tribe and the Navajo Nation the leases to mine in Kayenta and built a power plant in Page, Arizona (USA). The Navajo Generating Station had three 236-meter tall flue gas stacks, the most iconic part of three identical 750 MW steam electric generating units. It provided electricity to Arizona, Nevada, and California.

The Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe reward was a 3.3 per cent royalty. A terrible deal that had an explanation – the attorney representing the Hopi Tribe was on Peabody’s payroll. Later they found out the scam, fought back and managed to negotiate better contractual terms. But no compensation could match the suffering for the Hopi families’ forced relocation and also for the destruction of several ancestral shrines. The plant had nearly 600 employees – ninety per cent were Native Americans. Natural-gas-fired electricity was a cheaper option than coal and in the owners decided to close the plant. The Navajo Nation tried to buy the facility then asked for the Federal government intervention. Neither actions could prevent the closing down on November 18, 2019. Thirteen months later the three towering smokestacks at the Navajo Generating Station were demolished in a controlled explosion.

After the explosion, members of the Navajo Nation and Hopi tribe released a statement, saying, “It marks the close of a painful chapter for thousands of Navajo and Hopi whose lives and families have been impacted by coal. Until it closed last November, the 2,400 MW power plant generated electricity for Phoenix, Tucson, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and other cities, insultingly bypassing Navajo and Hopi homes and businesses. The plant also pumped the massive amounts of water that has allowed Phoenix to grow into the fifth largest city in America, all while thousands of Navajo and Hopi homes also lack access to running water.” A landmark is gone, the wounds are not. ONE

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    By: ONE Team

    ONE is a nonprofit magazine founded in 2014, dedicated to providing unbiased and independent commentary and reporting on energy and environment issues. ONE policy pursues the following principles: accuracy, integrity and transparency.
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