President Begaye Orders Renewable Energy Effort on Navajo Nation

Sep 20, 2017

Navajo Nation President Russell Begaye has signed an executive order promoting clean energy. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports, it’s part of a larger push by the tribe to move away from fossil fuels on the reservation.

Solar panels at the Kayenta solar farm on the Navajo Nation. It opened last month and produces enough electricity to power 13,000 homes.
Credit John Austria/The Daily Times

President Begaye’s order is designed to safeguard public health and the environment. He says the plan will also help create jobs in a growing clean energy economy.

The order mandates that Navajo Nation agencies detail how to reduce environmental impacts, and sets a goal of transitioning tribal buildings and street lights to solar. It also directs the tribe to develop an overall sustainability plan.

"As we look toward the future, we need to lessen our dependency on the energy production structures that we currently have in place," President Begaye says. "The future of the Nation lies within building environmentally friendly solutions to power supply while utilizing advancing technologies to lead the Nation forward."

The focus on clean energy comes as the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station is slated to close in 2019, threatening hundreds of jobs.

The Navajo Nation opened its first utility-scale solar farm last month in Kayenta, which generates enough electricity to power 13,000 homes.