Tobin Addresses NGS Situation
Where is that elusive lease agreement that would keep the Navajo Generating Station open past July 1, 2017? It’s been a while since we’ve heard anything. That’s why Lake Powell Communications turned once again to Andy Tobin, who is a Commissioner with the State of Arizona’s utility oversight group; the Arizona Corporation Commission.
Tobin says it’s interesting to note that the Hopi and Navajo Tribes weren’t the only Native Americans Tribes represented at the 2-day NGS meeting in Washington last week.
“You have the Tohono O’odham and Gila River, and these folks are beneficiaries of the plant closing,” he pointed out. “Because, remember, they’re C.A.P. (Central Arizona Project) customers, who are saying there will be significant savings for them (if NGS closes).”
He believes it’s a little ironic that you have several the Native American communities there with alternating positions.
“I think they all want a solution, but their solution keeps falling back to, ‘this place has got to close because we want to save money.’”
But what it still boils down to at this point is that we’re starting to run out of time.
There are still plenty of questions to be discussed and settled, but all of it becomes moot if an updated lease agreement isn’t ironed out between the plant operators and the owners of the land where NGS sits; the Navajo Nation.
“You can find a lot of things you can agree on, later, but the answer is that without a two-year extension, there is no ‘later,’” explained Tobin. “So there are still a lot of pressure points we are dealing with here, but the very first one is, how do we keep this thing afloat and keep burning coal and keep producing power there.”
Andy Tobin continues to think it’s most interesting that toward the end of 2016 everything surrounding the Navajo Generating Station was humming along beautifully, and then just a few months into 2017 we suddenly seem to be on the verge of a permanent closure.
“Something in the mix happened between the holidays and January,” said Tobin, “and all of a suddenly this things been imploding ever since. I’m very suspicious of it. I think somehow there should be a time-out and we can all take a better look.”
But he’s also getting nervous.
“When people start talking about, ‘If it closes what are we going to do?’ In my mind you’re throwing in the towel. But I’m not there yet; I’m just not.”
Next up will be another meeting of the NGS players on both sides of the close/not close issue. It will be held somewhere in Arizona on May 16.