Navajo GS: Energy Solutions that Work for Consumers
A person could almost be “born yesterday” and still quickly understand one of the most enduring truths about our economy; nearly everything that touches our lives depends on energy. We need it, we count on it, and we are literally powerless without it.
It stands to reason that whenever we can identify smart energy solutions that save consumers money and protect their quality of life, there’s a cause for shared optimism. Such is the case with a new study released by Navigant Consulting highlighting the continued benefits of keeping the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) online for several more decades, reviving hopes that the energy solution for much of the Southwest is the one they’ve been counting on all along.
Recently it has been proposed that NGS be “scrapped” in favor of a natural gas generating station. But after a careful and thorough analysis, Navigant’s study has made it clear that this would be a wasteful, expensive and risky path for consumers, and that NGS is best equipped to deliver reliable energy at a consistently low cost.
NGS uses coal from tribal lands of the Navajo and Hopi Nations, benefiting their communities and the overall economy by over $430 million annually. Their leadership is strongly in favor of maintaining NGS’s operations, calling it a “beacon of energy production,” while noting the mine and station employ over 830 people.
While coal has remained as a stable, affordable and abundant energy source for the citizens in the Southwest, natural gas prices are at times subject to fluctuation. Given the reliability, economic importance and efficiency of NGS, converting this region to natural gas as some are proposing would be extremely costly and risky for consumers.
Natural gas in this specific area also carries risks of supply and transportation disruptions, only allows for small buffers in energy supply, while being highly sensitive to demand. And as this region of our nation grows, expectations to meet growing demand will be increasingly stressed. Taken together these issues are similar to those that plagued California and caused its energy crisis in 2000-2001.
Most importantly, NGS has demonstrated that consumers relying on coal power are benefiting from technologies that lower emissions while still keeping costs low. It serves as a model for keeping coal as a responsible part of America’s energy mix, and one that can be repeated elsewhere to remind policymakers who are frequently seduced by the false promise of temporary reductions in natural gas prices that these reductions will not last forever. The inevitable conclusion that NGS represents is that coal is crucial both to our national economy and consumers’ needs.
NGS was designed to endure until 2044 when it was brought online in 1974; it would be extremely costly for consumers and industry in the Southwest to fund its replacement, as well as foolish given that NGS serves its community and serves consumers with reliable and more affordable energy. The Navigant study has amply shown that there is no need to fix something that is not only not broken, but actually getting cleaner and more cost effective.