Utility board panel backs replacement lease for power plant

The Associated Press

A coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Nation might be allowed to remain in operation beyond this year.

In this Sept. 4, 2011 file photo, smoke rises from the stacks of the main plant facility at the Navajo Generating Station, as seen from Lake Powell in Page, Ariz. Navajo Nation officials and the power utility that is the Navajo Generating Station's managing owner are expressing optimism about reaching an agreement soon to keep the coal-fired plant operating through 2019. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin, File)


TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — A coal-fired power plant on the Navajo Nation might be allowed to remain in operation beyond this year.

A Salt River Project board committee is recommending the full board approve a proposed replacement lease and SRP spokesman Scott Harelson says the next step is up to tribal officials.

Harelson says lease terms are confidential until tribal legislation is proposed, but officials have said they were talking about keeping he plant in operation through 2019.

Utilities owning shares of the plant have said they want to get cheaper power from natural gas-fired plants.

The current lease ends in late 2019 but operations would need to cease this year to leave time for removing the plant.

It's a source of revenue and jobs for the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe.

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