NTEC program provides more than 11,500 tons of coal this season

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times
Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer, center, received an update about the Community Heating Resource Program during a visit to Navajo Mine on March 26.

FARMINGTON — A program that provides coal from Navajo Mine to members of the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe concluded its season last week.

The Community Heating Resource Program is offered by the Navajo Transitional Energy Company and its contract mine operator, Bisti Fuels Company.

According to an NTEC press release, the total amount of coal distributed this season was 11,500 tons. This amount consists of tribal members receiving coal at the mine and from coal delivered by the company to chapter houses.

More than 9,600 community members were served on the Navajo Nation and the villages of the Hopi Tribe during the season, which started in October and ended on March 27.

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Members of the Navajo Nation wait to receive coal under the Community Heating Resource Program at Navajo Mine in Fruitland on Feb. 6, 2020.

Cortasha Upshaw, community coordinator with NTEC, explained that because of COVID-19, information meetings to community leaders were held virtually.

"With our huge increase this past season and providing coal to 110 chapter communities we can see that coal is still a huge heating source for our Navajo families and we will continue to do our part to help with the resources we have," Upshaw said.

NTEC described the season as the program's "most successful year" since assuming responsibility for it in 2015.

That success was recognized by Navajo Nation Vice President Myron Lizer when he toured the program's coal facilities and the mine on March 26.

"I am very appreciative of NTEC's efforts to assist families through the Community Heating Resource Program, by providing free coal to chapters during the winter season," Lizer said. "Not only does NTEC provide the necessary energy source to power homes and communities, but the company also employs hundreds of Navajo men and women and gives back to our communities through scholarship awards, charitable contributions, and support and relief during the COVID-19 pandemic."

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A member of the Nahodishgish Chapter presents a ticket handed out by chapter houses for residents to receive free allotments of coal under the Community Heating Resource Program at Navajo Mine in Fruitland on Feb. 6, 2020.

The program has been offered in various forms by mine owners and operators since the 1980s, according to NTEC.

"We dedicate considerable time and resources to make sure this program is successful. From mining the coal to final distribution, we have made many improvements to meet the increased need for coal across the nation. We always stand ready to ensure this vital resource is available to the Navajo people," NTEC CEO Clark Moseley said.

NTEC will start the 2021-2022 season with information sessions for chapter governments and the company anticipates coal deliveries to start in August.

Noel Lyn Smith covers the Navajo Nation for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4636 or by email at nsmith@daily-times.com.

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