NTEC invests in Enchant Energy – and also takes a seat on the company’s board

NTEC  says carbon capture project at San Juan Generating Station, and prospect of saving local jobs, motivated NTEC’s investment

John R. Moses
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC) confirmed Monday that it has made "a strategic investment in Enchant Energy Corporation, a Farmington-based company focused on developing a large-scale platform for carbon capture services in the Southwest."

The deal puts NTEC on the energy company's board of directors.

Enchant Energy is negotiating with owners of the San Juan Generating Station to take over the facility, but its most likely electricity consumer, Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), as of Feb. 20, was citing concerns over Enchant's financing and ability to make carbon capture technology work there.

"With this investment, NTEC gains a board seat and will utilize their expertise to help the company yield strong investor returns and embrace environmental goals," said NTEC CEO Vern Lund in the news release.

Formed in 2019, Enchant is working with the City of Farmington to take over the San Juan Generating Station when it is officially abandoned, which is supposed to take place by the end of the year. State regulators last week said PNM was within its rights to run the plant three months past it's scheduled June 30 shutdown date.

That move by PNM, aimed at meeting electricity demands during the peak months of summer, changed Enchant's schedule to take over the plant but also gave the company three more months to work out deals with the plant's many owners.

Enchant CEO Cindy Crane said last week she does not oppose PNM's operation of the plant until Sept. 30 and also welcomes NTEC as an investor. Crane announced the investment last week during an interview with The Daily Times shortly before the Public Regulation Commission told PNM it didn't need the state's blessing to run the plant past the original abandonment date.

"We are excited to have NTEC join us," Crane said in the news release. "Our shared goals include giving back to our community, while using cutting-edge technology to decarbonize electric power, enabling sustainable development, and demonstrating that CCS can help avoid emissions from existing power plants through retrofits. NTEC's expertise will be invaluable."

Cindy Crane

"NTEC's goals are aligned with those of Enchant's management, and we value the opportunity to be at the forefront of technological developments in this industry," Lund said in NTEC's news release.

"With this investment in Enchant, NTEC is furthering our commitment to diversifying the company portfolio by acquiring shares in an enterprise focused on addressing the challenge of meeting climate goals through capturing and sequestering carbon emissions from existing power plants and industrial facilities in the western U.S.," Lund said.

The investment by NTEC was not well received by environmental group, Diné C.A.R.E.

"Carbon capture sequestration projects have not been successful in the U.S. There are a number of complications and dangers in sequestering carbon," Robyn Jackson, climate and energy outreach coordinator with Diné C.A.R.E., said on March 1.

"It is worrisome and disappointing that NTEC has allocated some unknown amount of investment in Enchant, a proposed CCS project. This does not sound like a financially sound or profit generating investment for a tribal corporation," Jackson said.

NTEC describes itself as "a single member limited liability company, organized under the laws of the Navajo Nation, that owns mines in New Mexico, Wyoming and Montana."

The San Juan Generating Station is pictured in 2015 in Waterflow.

When NTEC was formed in 2013, it was by legislation approved by the members of the 22nd Navajo Nation Council and then-President Ben Shelly.

That legislation also mandates the Navajo Nation's direct involvement in the oversight and management of NTEC through five member representatives.

These member representatives are members of the tribal council and are selected from each of the five standing committees.

Currently serving as member representatives are Delegates Paul Begay, Nathaniel Brown, Eugenia Charles-Newton, Pernell Halona and Rick Nez.

Brown and Charles-Newton both said on March 1 that they did not know about NTEC's investment in Enchant.

"I had no idea," Charles-Newton said, then added that she was disappointed NTEC doesn't inform delegates about its business ventures.

Begay, Halona and Nez could not be reached for comment on March 1. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez did not reply to a request for comment as well.

Reporter Noel Lyn Smith contributed to this story.

Contact John R. Moses at 505-564-4624, or via email at jmoses@daily-times.com.

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