Published June 17, 2017
FORT DEFIANCE, ARIZONA –The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) and its wholly-owned subsidiary NGI-Kayenta, Inc. are very proud to announce that the Kayenta Solar Facility is sending power to the transmission grid in Kayenta, Arizona. This wholly owned Navajo project, is the first-of–its-kind utility-scale solar project within the Navajo Nation and will enhance clean energy initiatives of the Navajo Nation and NTUA.
“The completion of this project demonstrates that the Navajo Nation is ready for large scale renewable energy production,” said NTUA General Manager Walter Haase. “This is a huge step into the area of energy production and sales, as well as a gigantic first step toward enhancing the green economy for the Navajo Nation.”
“The Navajo Nation has always been on the purchasing end of the energy production by having to secure energy from the outside,” Haase said. “Now we can move to the other side of the table and sell electricity and related attributes to other parties. This project gives us the opportunity to bring outside dollars in and contribute to the financial strength of the Navajo economy.”
In April 2016, NGI-Kayenta, Inc., NTUA, Isolux Corsan (the contractor), and top tribal leaders, including Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye, NN Vice President Jonathan Nez, Navajo Nation Speaker LoRenzo Bates, NN Resources and Development Chairman Alton Joe Shepherd, and Kayenta Council Delegate Nathaniel Brown officially broke ground in an open field just north of Kayenta.
Eight months later construction got underway and was completed in six months. The $60 million facility was commissioned in June 2017. Isolux Corsan was selected for its vast experience in photovoltaic solar plants construction throughout the world, including California, Spain, Italy, Peru, and Japan. The Kayenta Solar Project is the second US solar power plant construction of Isolux.
The Kayenta Solar Project places the Navajo Nation as the first among all Native Nations to develop a utility scale solar farm that will produces 27.3 megawatts of electricity. The project brought much needed construction jobs to the region. More than 550 people attended the regional job fair for construction jobs. Close to 250 individuals – (195 Navajo), worked during the height of the solar facility’s six-month construction.
“Providing jobs was a big initiative of this project. We wanted local residents to have the opportunity to work and learn solar plant construction,” Haase said. “Even though the actual construction was short-term, the employees received valuable hands-on training. It helps build their resumes in solar plant construction.”
One of the early challenges in developing the project was finding available land. Fortunately, the Kayenta community supported the project development initiative and voted in favor of this first of its kind renewable energy project.
“I want to thank the citizens of the Kayenta Chapter for approving this new direction for the Navajo Nation as a supplier of renewable energy,” Kayenta Council Delegate Nathaniel Brown said. “Our community is proud of being the first Navajo community to have a large scale solar energy farm on the Navajo Nation.”
The Kayenta Solar facility consists of 119,301 photovoltaic panels on single axis trackers which follow the daily path of the Sun. The plant’s output of 27.3 MW is enough energy to service approximately 13,000 homes. The service life of the plant is expected to exceed 25 years, during which it will generate up to 1,900 GWh of energy. The Kayenta Solar Project currently provides electricity to Navajo communities served by NTUA. NTUA currently sells the environmental attributes from the Kayenta Solar Project to Salt River Project.
Photos provided by KY Solar Farm and KY Solar were taken in March during the height of the construction of the project.
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This BBSNews article originally appeared on Native News Online.