Salt River Project, Navajo Nation partner on new solar power facility in Arizona

Noel Lyn Smith
Farmington Daily Times

FARMINGTON — A Phoenix-based public power utility and the Navajo Nation have extended the contract for the utility to continue receiving electric power from a solar power facility outside of Kayenta, Arizona through March 2038.

Officials from Salt River Project, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority and the Navajo Nation government signed the contract on Jan. 20 in Phoenix.

In addition, the parties signed an agreement to build a new solar facility in Cameron, Arizona in the Western Agency of the Navajo Nation.

This facility would produce 200 megawatts of energy and would go into operation by the end of next year.

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Leaders from the Navajo Nation join officials from the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority and Salt River Project for a ceremony to sign agreements on Jan. 20 in Phoenix.

Officials touted the new site as supporting renewable energy development on the Navajo Nation.

In separate news releases, Salt River Project and the tribal president's office stated that the Cameron project will generate approximately $11 million for the land lease as well as $32 million in transmission operations over the next 25 years.

It will also bring approximately $15 million in tax revenue and provide between 300-400 jobs during construction with up to 90% going to tribal members.

"This collaboration with the Navajo Nation on the Kayenta Solar generation facility supports the Navajo community's transition from a coal-based economy and has provided a valuable resource to SRP's growing renewable energy portfolio," Salt River Project General Manager and CEO Mike Hummel said in the releases. "In addition, we are extremely honored to work alongside NTUA to continue to work together on future projects including Cameron Solar."

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Towers and power lines at the Kayenta Solar Project facility are shown during a tour on July 6, 2017 in Kayenta, Arizona.

NTUA is a tribal enterprise. It has been operating the solar energy facility near Kayenta – known as Kayenta I – since May 2017.

Together with its partnering site, Kayenta II, generates enough energy to power 36,000 homes on the tribal land, according to the news releases.

"The NTUA renewable energy development goal is multifaceted which includes helping to generate a new Navajo Nation economy, creating new jobs, keeping electric and utility rates stable and using excess proceeds to connect homes to the electric grid," NTUA General Manager Walter Haase said in the news releases.

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Automated solar panel arrays convert sunlight to electricity on July 6, 2017 at the Kayenta Solar Project facility in Kayenta, Arizona.

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

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