Navajo Nation's Plan To Buy Coal Plant Put On Hold

Jun 20, 2013

Plans for the Navajo Nation to buy a coal mine in New Mexico from an Australian company have been put on hold, as negotiations between companies for a generating plant fed by the mine has raised questions about the future of Navajo controlled coal.

Here's the cast of characters: There's the coal mine, owned by an Australian company. There's the Four Corners coal-fired power plant whose six owners include Southern California Edison, Arizona Public Service, and PNM. Then there's the Navajo Nation which wants to buy the mine and sell the coal to the power plant.

At the moment, APS is looking to buy California Edison's share of the Four Corners power plant because California requires its state utilities to not use coal-generated power. However, Arizona is looking to deregulate the energy market causing APS to think twice before purchasing the plant.

The Four corners plant provides electricity to 300-thousand households in Texas, California, Arizona and New Mexico, but with uncertainty over the plants future, Navajo officials wonder whether the purchase of a coal mine is still a good idea.

The Navajo Nation says it's exploring alternatives for coal, should the mine be acquired, however, officials say until peripheral issues are resolved by states and companies, the purchase is on hold.

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