Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye signed a contract last week for Big Navajo Energy to install solar power units for 44 Navajo homes that are located on lands impacted by the Navajo-Hopi land dispute.
According to the Nation, veterans, elders and disabled Navajos living on the Hopi Partitioned Land (HPL), Navajo Partitioned Land, and the Former Bennett Freeze Area have priority to receive 1,500 to 15,000-watt solar power systems. The first set of homes that will receive power are located in the communities of Coalmine, Forest Lake, Hardrock, Jeddito, Tonalea/Red Lake, Teesto, Tolani Lake and Whippoorwill, as well as those living on the HPL.
“Many people take electricity for granted, but there are many Navajo families that are off the grid and without access to electric energy,” President Begaye said. “Solar power will go a long way to move the Navajo Nation forward by helping those who really need it.”
Big Navajo Energy will use the solar installation project as an opportunity to train youth and residents at the grassroots level to learn the new technology, said Dory Peters, president of Big Navajo Energy. In this way, they can carry out repairs and installations on their own.
“For me, it’s been a passion to help our people have access to basic power,” Peters said. “Most of these families have been waiting for power for thirty to sixty years. However, with recent developments in renewable energy, solar generators have become more reliable and affordable for remote families that have no access to a traditional power source.”
“Solar units are also more efficient,” he added. “Our installations are done in a day and so these families will have power on the same day we arrive.”
The contract for the 44 solar power units is part of the Navajo Nation’s larger shift toward renewable energy.
Last year in August, the Navajo Nation celebrated the grand opening of Kayenta Solar Farm, a facility that produces 27.3 megawatts of energy into the grid. This year in January, an agreement was signed for an additional project known as Kayenta II. The groundbreaking ceremony for this project is scheduled for August 23, 2018.