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Biggest Coal Plant in the West to Shut Down Next Week

Nov. 8, 2019, 10:07 PM

The biggest coal-fired power plant west of the Mississippi River is shutting down sometime “mid to late” the week of Nov. 11, its operator confirmed Nov. 8.

The shuttering of the 2,400-megawatt Navajo Generating Station in northeastern Arizona has been anticipated for months, but the new date comes slightly ahead of schedule.

Scott Harelson, a spokesman for NGS operator Salt River Project, said it’s difficult to provide a certain date, “but that is the projection based on the remaining fuel supply.”

Peabody Energy Corp.'s nearby Kayenta Mine sent its last trainload of coal to the generating station in late August.

Attention now shifts to the cleanup of the massive facility.

Focus on Cleanup

A Peabody spokeswoman in August said the 44,000-acre Kayenta Mine will be cleaned to a high standard, with about 19,000 acres already reclaimed.

“The closing of NGS represents an opportunity to right the longstanding wrongs on water that our people have suffered as a result of coal operations,” said Carol Davis, coordinator and director of Dine Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, an environmental group.

Many families in the region don’t have running water because decades of coal mining have depleted the aquifer, Davis said.

The plant sits on Navajo land, and the Navajo Nation’s current leadership supports a transition to renewable energy. The tribe in September said it completed the second phase of its Kayenta Solar generating facility.

“As coal markets end and local power plants and mines close, we stand to benefit from the development of clean energy projects, and from an economic transition that prioritizes local community voices,” said Nicole Horseherder, executive director of the Navajo community group To Nizhoni Ani, in a statement. “But we need support from those that profited for decades from the use of Navajo natural resources.”

The youngest of NGS’s three units, which had been burning coal since it was built in 1976, shut down in September, prefiguring the plant’s complete shuttering. All three of the NGS’s units are 803 megawatts.

To contact the reporter on this story: Stephen Lee in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Gregory Henderson at; Anna Yukhananov at; Cheryl Saenz at