Arizona utility picks Navajos, Edison for wind power supply

Arizona utility Salt River Project has selected the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority and Edison Mission Energy to build and operate a proposed 85MW wind farm in the state that would begin generating power by 31 December 2012.

Salt River is now negotiating terms of a 25 year power purchase agreement for the full output of the Boquillas Wind Project in west-central Arizona with the Navajo Nation enterprise and Edison Mission. It will generate power for about 19,000 average size homes in the Phoenix area.

The Navajo Nation, which owns NTUA , says the project will be the first green energy enterprise majority owned by a Native American tribe. It did not provide an exact ownership stake. The wind farm will be located on Navajo land. NTUA is the largest multi-service utility – electric, gas and water – owned and operated by an American tribe.

“This project was conceived with the goal to develop and introduce an energy economy for the Navajo Nation that will directly benefit the Navajo people,” says says NTUA General Manager Walter W. Haase. “With this project, the process has started.”

Pedro Pizarro, president of parent company Edison Mission Group , notes Boquillas is a “first-of-its- kind business relationship” that can increase use of renewable power and help Native American nations expand their economic base.

The Navajo Nation lives on the largest US Indian reservation that covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. It also owns lands elsewhere in Arizona.

Salt River, the third largest publicly owned electric utility in the US, has a self-imposed renewable portfolio standard goal of 20% of its retail sales by 2020, up from 7.4% in 2010, which includes energy efficiency measures.