Farmington, N.M. • A program that provides free coal to Navajos to heat their homes is starting up later this month.

Many Navajos still use coal as a heating source, but accessing it became harder after a coal-fired power plant and its supply mine in northeastern Arizona shut down last year.

The only coal mine still operating on the reservation is the Navajo Mine in northwestern New Mexico. Its owner, the Navajo Transitional Energy Company, expanded its coal resource program to help fill the gaps.

Each of the Navajo Nation’s 110 chapters across Arizona, New Mexico and Utah can request tickets for coal on behalf of community members. Navajos have to pick up the coal themselves from the Navajo Mine outside Farmington, New Mexico. One ticket equals one ton of coal.

Officials from the Navajo Transitional Energy Company say they’ll load the coal into vehicles to ensure safety during the coronavirus pandemic. The pickups are available Wednesday through Friday, starting Oct. 28. Availability on Saturday will depend on the tribe’s public health orders.

The tribe has implemented daily curfews and weekend lockdowns to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The lockdown is in effect through at least the Halloween weekend.