PAGE, Ariz. – Communities on the Navajo Nation are bracing for the economic fallout from the possible shutdown of a coal-fired power plant.
Closing the Navajo Generating Station and a coal mine that provides the plant’s fuel would lead to an estimated loss of 2,400 jobs in the community, reported the Arizona Daily Sun.
Plant owners including the Salt River Project have a lease until 2044 that requires them to pay the Navajo Nation about $42 million annually.
Page Mayor Bill Diak says plant officials are concerned about lower natural gas prices and pollution regulations.
“It’s not necessarily about the lease (with the Navajo Nation) but the total economic picture of the plant operation moving forward and to keep investing in something that will be going away,” Diak said.
The closure could occur in the next several years.
Coconino County Supervisor Lena Fowler’s district covers Page.
She says work is underway to create jobs and develop a local economy that can withstand the plant’s closure. About $330,000 in federal economic development grants are helping these efforts.
A study and economic development plan for the region is being developed by the Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona. The group’s president and CEO John Stigmon says researchers will be “looking hard at what new industries could replace (the power plant).”
Fowler said these efforts are just getting started and there is still plenty of work to do.
“I feel we can’t sit back and just let a business close its doors and after it is shut down, then we wonder what to do,” Fowler said. “This is not like a disaster where it happens, then you figure out what to do. That’s not the case. We know this is coming.”