Arizona coal plant to stay open through 2019

Arizona coal plant to stay open through 2019
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The coal-fired Navajo Generating Station has obtained the approval it needs to stay open through 2019.

The Salt River Project, an Arizona utility that partially owns the plant and is negotiating on behalf of the other owners, announced Wednesday that the federal Bureau of Reclamation and Bureau of Indian Affairs had completed their environmental review of the lease extension.

The plant’s owners, which include Reclamation, lease the plant’s land from the Navajo Nation. They had originally planned to close it this year, but the Trump administration and the Navajo Nation pushed for a renewal, and the other utilities involved agreed to it.

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“A great deal of hard work from a number of dedicated individuals representing the Navajo Nation, the owners and the federal government made this important step possible,” Mike Hummel, deputy general manager of resources and finance at Salt River Project, which manages the plant, said in a statement.

“We are grateful for their effort as this agreement provides meaningful benefits for all involved and creates a path forward during this challenging transition,” he said.

The utilities involved with the plant are looking to close it, citing economic pressures like the low costs of natural gas.

But the plant, along with a coal mine on Navajo land that feeds it, provides more than a thousand jobs, mainly to Navajos.

The Navajo Nation is still working to keep the plant open beyond 2019.