An agreement was signed by the Central Arizona Water Conservation District, Navajo Nation, Gila River Indian Community, Salt River Project, Environmental Defense Fund, and Western Resources Advocates, and the Department of the Interior this week which will ensure that delivery from the Navajo Generating Station will continue well into the future.
NGS is the largest coal-fired power plant in the West, providing more than 90 percent of the power for the Central Arizona Project (CAP), the state’s primary water delivery system, and plays a critical role in numerous tribal economies.
The agreement included the came “Reasonable Progress Alternative to BART,” which was submitted to the EPA United for consideration in developing the final Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) rule for NGS.
A Technical Work Group (TWG), established to identify emission reduction alternatives for the Navajo Generating Station, developed the agreement which will achieve “even greater nitrogen oxide (NOx) emission reductions than a proposal from the Environmental Protection Agency,” according to the NGS. “The proposal will allow the continued operation of NGS, and includes commitments by the U.S. Department of Interior to reduce carbon dioxide emissions and study opportunities to transition the Federal share of NGS over time.”
The EPA issued a Best Available Retrofit Technology (BART) proposal for Navajo Generating Station in February of this year. EPA’s proposal would require the NGS owners to install Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) technology on all three units by 2018. However, EPA also proposed an alternative that acknowledges the owners’ voluntary early installation of low-NOx burners at NGS in exchange for an extended schedule requiring installation of SCR on one unit per year between 2021 and 2023.
EPA also invited the submittal of alternative proposals that would achieve the same or greater emissions reductions as EPA’s proposal. In response to EPA’s invitation, the TWG will submit a proposal to the EPA for review and issuance as a supplemental proposal.
The current NGS owners are committed to cease operation of all conventional coal-fired generation at NGS no later than Dec. 22, 2044.
The TWG agreement also includes a commitment by the non-Federal NGS owners to establish a $5 million Local Benefit Fund for community improvement projects within 100 miles of NGS or the Kayenta Mine, the plant’s coal supplier.
“NGS and Kayenta Mine provide over 1,000 private sector jobs and support thousands of public sector jobs in the Navajo Nation government,” said Ben Shelly, President of the Navajo Nation. “Therefore, maintaining all units of NGS at maximum efficiency for as long as possible and complying with USEPA’s regional haze regulations are the Nation’s goals. NGS is important to the Navajo Nation because current and future payments generated by NGS directly benefit the Nation, and will assist with a long-term transition to a diverse energy portfolio. The Nation has never accepted the prospect of shutting down one unit at NGS, however, in response to the current USEPA proposed rule, this Reasonable Progress Alternative is a reasonable compromise by all parties. While this compromise may negatively impact the Nation’s overall economy, it is better than the potential for a complete shutdown of NGS in 2019, or before the end of the 25-year lease extension period in 2044. The Nation will continue to consult with U.S. EPA on the proposed rule before USEPA makes its final decision.”