Salt River Project seeks solar energy from bidders, including Navajo Nation

Farmington, N.M. • One of Arizona’s largest utilities is seeking companies to build solar plants to provide up to 400 megawatts of power, including 200 megawatts from Navajo Nation facilities, officials said.

Salt River Project issued a request for proposals Jan. 15, The Farmington Daily Times reported.

The energy produced will be delivered to customers in central Arizona, SRP officials said.

The request from the Phoenix-based utility asked for proposals for plants that can produce between 100 and 200 megawatts.

"Once contracted, the 400MW will position SRP to achieve its goal in acquiring 1,000MW of new solar energy by 2025," SRP said in a statement.

SRP has been transitioning its energy portfolio from coal-fired power plants to renewable energy and natural gas sources in response to industry and environmental regulation changes, the company said.

The Navajo Nation plants could be located anywhere within its territory that can connect to the SRP grid, spokeswoman Patty Garcia-Likens said.

Navajo Nation includes areas of northeast Arizona, northwest New Mexico and southeast Utah.

"We are looking for companies to provide bids to build the plants and SRP will purchase the energy from the plants. The 400 megawatts can serve up to 100,000 SRP customers," Garcia-Likens said.

The request for proposals was formulated through a collaboration with a working group formed by the Navajo Hayoolkaal Proclamation, officials said.

The April 2019 proclamation calls for the tribe to diversify its energy portfolio and create jobs from clean energy projects.

“This project is critical as it moves us forward in our goal to invest in more solar energy projects and offer our customers a diverse mix of affordable, emission-free power," SRP CEO Mike Hummel said in a statement.

"We are also proud to work with the Navajo Nation as they facilitate further development of renewable energy,” Hummel said.

The action opens new opportunities for the tribe, Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez said.

“We recognize that coal-based energy provided many benefits for the workers and their families, but times are changing, and energy development is changing,” Nez said in a statement.