Tribally owned solar power plant beats skeptics, odds on Navajo Reservation

The Kayenta Solar project created as many as 28 construction jobs while it was being build, in an area with chronically high unemployment. It opened last year and plans are already underway for a second phase, groundbreaking is set for later this month. / Photo courtesy Navajo Tribal Utility Authority / Payson Roundup

Deenise Becenti remembers watching this summer as a Navajo woman who had been waiting more than 20 years to get electricity in her home flipped the switch to turn on the lights for the first time.

“She had a whole lot of happy tears,” said Becenti, spokeswoman for the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority. “It was a very humble day because you knew that she had been waiting for ‘the day’ for a very long time.”

“The day” was made possible by the Kayenta Solar Project, the first large-scale solar farm on the Navajo Reservation and the largest tribally owned renewable power plant in the country. The 27.3-megawatt plant, which went on line last summer, now generates enough power for 18,000 homes on Navajo lands.

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