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Navajo Nation’s Sunny Future Begins in Kayenta

Navajo Nation’s Sunny Future Begins in Kayenta
April 25
11:00 2016

It was windy, but sunny in the beautiful town of Kayenta Saturday. Many Navajo Nation leaders were on hand to participate in the ground breaking of the nation’s first solar facility.

 L-R:  LoRenzo Bates (Navajo Nation Council Speaker), Alton Joe Shephard (Navajo Nation Resources & Development Committee), Vice President Jonathan Nez and President Russell Begaye

“K-Town,” as Vice President refers to his hometown, was so windy that following the dusty and blowing ground breaking, the festivities were held in the Kayenta Chapter House, which was filled with many leaders and residents excited about this new venture.

A tent had been set-up, but it wasn’t staying put due to the high winds. So they dismantled it and moved the event, once the ground had been broken.

Texas native Sidney Bob Dietz II is the Chairman of the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA). He told the large crowd that he likes to see things get built.

“I’m proud to be part of the NTUA team because we bring infrastructure to folks,” he said. “We bring power; we bring water, communications and all these wonderful things.”

He says the NTUA enjoys being part of the progress on the Nation.

Dietz was among several who verbalized appreciation to the people who own the land where the solar facility is being built.

Chicago native Walter Haase is the NTUA General Manager. He’s an electrical engineer and a graduate of the University of Illinois

Haase says this particular work on the Navajo Nation is a great calling for him, professionally.

“We still have fifteen thousand families without access to electricity,” he said.  “That represents about seventy thousand people. Seventy-five percent of the people in the United States who do not have access to electricity live here within the Navajo nation.”

These seem to be startling numbers. But more than that, Haase said, “We still have eighteen thousand families without running water in their homes.”

He sees a lot of areas where NTUA can improve the lives of people. That’s why the GM told the crowd he’s not going anywhere.

Navajo President Russell Begaye spoke eloquently in English and Navajo in sharing his excitement for this new venture.

“I appreciate the love and the effort and the mission of this community and the people that are involved in this,” he said.

This will be the largest residential solar fleet of a tribe utility anywhere in the United States. The facility will be located about five miles north of Route 160 on the west side of Route 163.

(Pictured from L-R: LoRenzo Bates (Navajo Nation Council Speaker), Alton Joe Shephard (Navajo Nation Resources & Development Committee), Vice President Jonathan Nez and President Russell Begaye)

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