Navajos to supply wind energy to Arizona

The Navajo Nation likely will get its first wind farm as the result of a deal announced Thursday to sell power to Salt River Project from a wind energy project to be built near Seligman.

The wind turbines project would be built 80 miles west of Flagstaff at the Boquillas Ranch, a checkerboard of land owned by the Navajo Nation and Arizona State Land Department that is not connected to the Navajo Reservation, which sprawls through northeastern Arizona and into New Mexico and Utah.

The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority would jointly finance and be the majority owner of the estimated $200 million wind power plant in a partnership with Edison Mission Energy, a subsidiary of Edison International in California. Edison also owns the Southern California Edison utility.

The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority has partnered with Santa Ana, Calif.-based Edison Mission Energy to build and operate the 85-megawatt wind farm north of Seligman. A proposed 25-year contract calls for the electricity to be delivered to the Salt River Project by December 2012.

Construction of the Boquillas Wind Farm is expected to start late this year or early next year. Up to 350 people could be employed during construction. Eight to 10 jobs would be permanent. The tribal utility is the majority owner. SRP says the project will produce enough energy for more than 19,000 average homes in the Phoenix metropolitan area.

The wind farm is expected to have a capacity of 85 megawatts, which is enough electricity to meet the power demand in about 21,250 homes at once while the wind is blowing.

The wind farm is expected to operate at a higher efficiency than the Dry Lake Wind Power Project near Snowflake, which supplies SRP with a maximum capacity of about 120 megawatts.

SRP also has plans to purchase power from a 99-megawatt wind farm planned south of Seligman in Yavapai County.

Other wind farms under way in Arizona include a Kingman project to serve UniSource Energy Corp. and another near Williams to serve Arizona Public Service Co.