Navajo Nation's long coal-fired power station halts production


An enormous coal-fired power plant, which has been serving clients within the West for nearly 50 years, closed on Monday, the most recent being a transition from coal to renewable vitality and cheaper vitality.

The Navajo plant, situated close to the Arizona-Utah line, is anticipated to shut by the top of the 12 months, however the precise day was not sure as a result of the plant was aiming to exhaust a inventory of coal.

He stopped producing electrical energy shortly after Monday's Monday when his supervisor, Fred Larson, an worker for 41 years, completely put the ability out of service.

"It will be hard for people because the employees are very proud and passionate, and they put their hearts into this factory," mentioned Paul Ostapuk, security and environmental supervisor within the firm. manufacturing unit. .

The 2 250-megawatt, 3-unit plant is without doubt one of the largest crops within the western United States and has long been a goal of environmentalists who declare that it pollutes the air and contributes to well being issues. The cheaper costs of electrical energy produced from pure fuel, moderately than environmental laws, have led owners to resolve to shut it in 2017.

The coal was delivered to the power station by a devoted electrical railway that winds 126 km by way of the excessive desert of the Navajo nation. By subsequent fall, the poles and overhead power strains that served the railway shall be gone. The Navajo Nation has not but determined to maintain the railroad and use it for tourism or to promote it.

A trio of towering concrete columns with flashing lights that served as a beacon to the neighborhood shall be demolished subsequent fall.

The decommissioning will take as much as three years, following which the land ought to be put again into the state it was earlier than the development of the manufacturing unit.

Steve Yazzie, a former power plant worker who’s now working for a tribal vitality firm, mentioned that biologists from the Navajo Nation and the Salt River Project, which operates the plant, have met not too long ago to debate reseeding the soil with crops used for lifeless wool. tea and conventional medicines.

Reclamation work can also be underway at Peabody Energy's Kayenta mine, which has extracted coal from Navajo and Hopi tribes. She closed months earlier than the plant as a result of she had no different clients.

Environmentalists will carefully monitor reclamation efforts and push the Navajo nation to develop extra renewable vitality sources.

"We should get well from the errors of the previous by returning to the standard Diné legislation and giving precedence to vitality and water administration insurance policies per our values ​​and virtues as guardians of nature. Said Marie Gladue of Black Mesa Water. Coalition.

Job presents on different Salt River challenge websites got to greater than 430 staff and about 280 had been accepted. Others have retired or left the corporate.

Most of the workforce on the power plant exterior Page was Native American and supplied important income for the Navajo and Hopi tribes.

The closure of the plant was performed with out a lot fanfare. Employees who got medallions urging them to "finish in drive" gathered in August for a farewell social gathering. Each redeployment has been acknowledged. Some employees mentioned goodbye at smaller gatherings. Almost everybody took footage of the plant and with colleagues.

Director of Operations Jeff Rhees mentioned it was essential for him to remain till the top of the power plant earlier than shifting on to the Coronado power plant situated close to St. Johns, Arizona.

"I would like to have the ability to shake fingers with individuals and say thanks for what they did," he said. "And say goodbye to everybody."

Ostapuk will retire after almost 35 years on the plant. He is lively in neighborhood organizations and mentioned the closure would assist Page, a metropolis of about 7,500 individuals.

"It will change our character, however we’ll survive it," he said. "It's like studying an excellent novel, we'll flip the web page, roll up our sleeves and make Page the absolute best place."

Unit 2 of the three turbines was the final to cease working. The smoke-like plumes rising from the piles of concrete have disappeared. The employees centered on shutting down the boiler, draining the water and oil from the pipes, shutting down the followers and different duties.

The final day of the remaining staff shall be Thursday. A small workforce will stay to assist the contractors who will work on the demolition.

Kerrie Lane, who’s Navajo, left earlier this 12 months for an additional job with the Salt River challenge in Phoenix. She has resurrected a gaggle of Native American staff who meet for dinner or different social occasions and assist one another to navigate a a lot bigger metropolis, site visitors, faculty techniques and life exterior the reserve.

On her final day at Navajo Power Station in January, she returned to observe what she thought of to be her second dwelling and her second household and wished, a ball forming in his throat.

"When I got here again to age, I believed I used to be at dwelling. I believed I used to be performed, "Lane said. "My household was right here, my dad and mom had been there. And to rise up and down (in Phoenix), I used to be probably not completely happy, however on the similar time, we go the place our enterprise leads us. We will get by after we resume our lives. "


This story has been corrected to present a quote to Paul Ostapuk, to not Jeff Rhees.



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here