Tobin Unsettled by SRP Vote
Andy Tobin is a member of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), appointed by Governor Doug Ducey. The ACC oversees public utilities in the state and the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) is one of those utilities. Mr. Tobin spoke to Lake Powell Communications Wednesday (2/15) about the vote to shutdown NGS come December 2019.
“I talked to SRP (Salt River Project) and they want out,” Tobin told us. “Mathematically they think they have this proven, and maybe they do. There are still a lot of issues that are bothersome to me that are still on the table.”
Commissioner Tobin told us, “We must be getting some traction,” in light of the fact that the Bureau of Reclamation has scheduled a March 1st meeting. Those invited include SRP and all of the owners. Mr. Tobin was invited, too.
Overall Tobin says he found it unsettling how quickly things moved on this.
“This is a huge issue for a facility that’s been there for decades and is part of Arizona history,” he said. “At Christmas time we weren’t talking about this. Here we are, hurry up everybody; we have to close it.”
The ‘hurry up’ attitude, Tobin believes, took away options for other opportunities; chances for technology, lower coal prices or the new administration to perhaps step-in to save the day for NGS.
In addition, he points to the Four Corners Generating Station, also on the Navajo Nation and evidently making money.
“I’m pragmatic. I’m a free market guy. If you tell me SRP’s numbers are all right and they’ve checked all the boxes on these and have some good reasons, you know what; that’s life,” said Tobin.
“But we don’t have a lot of answers to these questions.”
He wondered aloud if maybe it would be worthwhile to make NGS a natural gas facility.
“That’s a potential solution,” he added.
He also suggested expanding the rail line and exporting the coal from Kayenta could also be helpful to the Navajo economy.
“There’s just an awful lot of questions that happened when this thing showed up, and I just think that jumping to the conclusion that we are shuttering this before we get all the boxes checked is a major mistake.”
Mr. Tobin spoke to Hopi Tribe leaders and Navajo President Russell Begaye since Monday’s vote. He is suggesting a summit with them.
“Let’s put all the cards on the table and see what options are available,” he said.