NGS Reactions Vary
Cheers and jeers could be heard around northern Arizona Monday evening. The reaction to the vote to keep the Navajo Generating Station open depended on who you were talking to or which news account you were reading.
The glass half full version was, “Hooray; the 500 workers at NGS still have a job for three years!” The half-empty reaction was, “These 500 workers at NGS will be out on the street in December 2019.”
The Salt River Project and the rest of the plant’s owners are looking to cuts costs. Actually, they were looking to cut one cost: coal. The cost of coal has gone up, while the cost of natural gas is far lower than the cost of coal.
The fear on Monday was that the vote in Phoenix by the owners would lead to the closing of the facility this year; 2017. And while they did not vote to keep NGS open for years to come, they did decide to keep it up and running through the end of the current contract; December 2019.
As an aside, the Navajo Nation has to agree to allow the tearing down of the 41-year old plant and clean-up of the property to extend beyond the December 2019 date. It would be quite a surprise if they did not agree to that stipulation.
One Navajo leader has spoken aloud about Monday’s decision. Council Speaker LoRenzo Bates is quoted as being unhappy with the vote. And he reportedly still has hopes that SRP and the other owners will end up deciding to keep the facility running for years.
In reality, that could happen if the prices of natural gas and coal reversed themselves in the next couple of years.
Environmentalists, of course, are celebrating Monday’s vote because of the cleaner air and fewer health risks involved when NGS shuts down.