The Salt River Project (SRP) has agreed to purchase $220,000 worth of solar photovoltaic Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) over the course of five years from the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) to help provide more Navajo Nation residents with electricity, according to a SRP press release.
Since 1999, NTUA has offered solar photovoltaic power systems to its low-income residential customers who do not have access to the electric grid. A REC proves that 1 megawatt-hour of electricity was generated from a renewable-energy resource. Once the electricity is generated and the provider has fed the electricity into the grid or the off-grid user has utilized the electricity, the RECs can be sold on the open market as a commodity.
The solar purchase agreement will be used to acquire additional off-grid systems for tribal residents.
“This is an opportunity that we see as a direct benefit for our solar energy customers,” said NTUA General Manager Walter Haase. “With this partnership, SRP is helping us help families who otherwise might not be able to have any access to electrical power. This program will provide that basic access.”
Currently, NTUA rents 263 solar photovoltaic systems to Navajo tribal members. The NTUA is also adding solar systems adjacent to some of its facilities. The system in Chinle is completed and the systems in Crownpoint, Fort Defiance and Shonto are expected to be completed later this year.
In February 2012, NTUA also initiated a partnership with the owners of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS), of which SRP owns a 21.7 percent share, on a project to extend electrical power to families living within the LeChee area. The project will bring electricity to more than 62 LeChee-area homes over a three-year period and will be joint-funded between NTUA, NGS, and the LeChee Chapter, with NGS owners contributing $2 million in funding over three years beginning in 2012.
“SRP is excited about the opportunity to partner with NTUA in providing more people on the Navajo Nation with access to electricity,” said Charlie Duckworth, senior director of SRP Energy Management. “The purchase adds to the number of distributed photovoltaic systems available on the Navajo Nation and improves the welfare of the Navajo people by providing more tribal members access to electricity.”