WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. — President Buu Nygren sent a message on Thursday that he is serious about developing the right kinds of energy projects on the Navajo Nation.
He signed Executive Order 02-2023, his second, to create a process for energy companies to submit proposals if they want to develop projects and do some form of energy business with, and on, the Navajo Nation.
Navajo Nation Attorney General Ethel Branch added her signature to the order and the signing was witnessed by the CEOs of the Nation’s three energy entities; Walter Haase, CEO of the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, James McClure, CEO of Navajo Nation Oil & Gas and Vern Lund, CEO of the Navajo Transitional Energy Co.
The signing fell on an auspicious day because it was also the start of the two-day Navajo Nation Energy Economy Revitalization meeting.
In attendance for the meeting was PaaWee Rivera, senior advisor for the White House Office of Intergovernmental Affairs and director of Tribal Affairs for the Biden-Harris Administration, Martha Guzman, EPA Pacific Southwest Region 9 Administrator, Wahleah Johns, U.S. Department of Energy director of the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, and representative from the federal Department of Energy and Department of the Interior.
The purpose of the executive order is to effectively implement the Navajo Nation’s 2013 Energy Policy through an accountable system. This will more quickly weed out proposals that are not in the Navajo Nation’s or host communities’ best interest.
“The Navajo Nation has always been an energy Nation, hands down,” President Nygren said. “We don’t live next to Phoenix. We don’t live next to metropolitan areas. But what we do have is we’ve always had, energy.”
“Whether it’s oil and gas, whether it’s coal, solar, no other tribe can even match us,” he said.
The order creates an “Initial Vetting Team” to screen energy proposals to ensure they are viable and warrant continued action by the Nation.
At the moment, a steady stream of proposals has been flowing in, said Bidtah Becker, Office of the President and Vice President chief legal counsel.
“Right now, the nation is being inundated with requests,” she said.
If a proposal looks good, the vetting team will proceed to due diligence, contact with potentially-affected chapters, refer the proposal to the right Navajo department and to one of its energy enterprises, such as NTUA, NNOG and NTEC, and for further consideration.
By this Monday, the Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources website will have instructions for companies on how to submit a vetting form.
The vetting process will help channel companies through the Navajo Nation’s systems or to an arm of the Nation that has expertise in energy.
The Nation is familiar with several different kinds of proposals. For instance a large scale proposal would be electricity-generating with a capacity of one megawatt or greater using five acres of land or more.
This would include those that burn fossil fuels or biomass to make power. It would also include those using renewable resources such as wind, solar, geothermal or hydroelectric such as pumped hydro.
It would also include projects that propose utilizing a portion of the 500 megawatts of transmission capacity from the Navajo Generating Station power lines which the Nation was granted rights to.
It would include projects by companies that don’t produce power on the Nation but want to extend its service onto the Nation or have the Nation join it in a project.