Efforts to save largest Western US coal plant stall; December decommissioning on track
- The owners of the 2,250 MW Navajo Generating Station say efforts to keep the facility online have stalled, and they are moving ahead with plans to decommission the plant by Dec. 22.
- The owners, including operator Salt River Project (SRP), Arizona Public Service, Tucson Electric Power and NV Energy, made the decision to shutter the plant in February 2017. Since then, there have been multiple efforts to save the facility, and the hundreds of jobs it provides for the Navajo nation, but those efforts appear to have run out of steam.
- The Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC) looked into taking over the plant, but negotiations came to a halt Wednesday over the owners' desire for NTEC to assume any known and unknown liabilities if it took over the facility, including potential changes to environmental regulations.
NTEC is reportedly hopeful that a deal can be reached to keep the Navajo Generating Station online, but the ongoing struggles to keep the plant going past December illustrate the declining market power of coal. Plant advocates have been searching for a solution for more than two years, but time is running out.
NGS owners are "willing to explore avenues for NTEC to assume ownership" of the plant, but also say the company "is not able to provide the required assurances to protect the plant's owners, their customers and shareholders in the event of a sale," according to a statement.
"Because of the time challenges to meet their decommissioning obligations, the owners will continue to move forward with plans to decommission NGS later this year," the companies said.
Since announcing its planned closure, NGS's owners say they have "granted several extensions and taken other steps to enable any interested entity to evaluate and potentially continue operation of NGS upon receipt of all necessary approvals."
NGS owners began discussions with NTEC in October, at the request of the Navajo Nation. Before NTEC, private equity firm Middle River Power had shown interest in purchasing the plant, but dropped its bid in September when it was unable to secure a buyer for the plant's output.
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