Red Mesa Tapaha Solar Farm opens
Navajo Nation officials celebrated the opening of the Red Mesa Tapaha Solar Farm with a ribbon cutting on August 25.
The 550-acre solar farm located near the Utah-Arizona border is slated to provide 72 megawatts of solar energy and was developed by the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA).
NTUA reports the project created 185 new jobs at the height of the construction period and installation phase. Several permanent jobs will also be created to maintain and operate the solar array going forward.
Utah Associated Municipal Power Systems (UAMPS) members including 13 Utah communities are among the purchasers of 66 megawatts of power, with the remaining energy to be consumed by NTUA.
While some of the Red Mesa Tapaha Solar Farm will provide energy for NTUA customers the majority of the energy generated will be bought by other energy companies.
NTUA officials explained excess proceeds will help to keep residential electric rates stable and help provide funding for electrification projects like Light Up Navajo.
“This facility is the first of its kind,” said NTUA General Manager Walter Haase. “It’s the first time that solar renewable energy project on the Navajo Nation and owned by the Navajo people is generating electricity to be sold to communities off the Navajo Nation.”
At the ceremony was Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren. In his comments, President Nygren spoke about the importance of renewable energy development and job creation for the Navajo Nation.
“This project is going to kickstart and light a fire under clean energy development on the Navajo Nation. Projects like this solar farm help us achieve greater energy independence while also providing good jobs for our people,” President Nygren said.
Among those at the ceremony celebrating the Res Mesa Tapaha Solar Farm was Navajo Nation Council’s Resources and Development Committee Chair Brenda Jesus.
Chair Jesus said the Resources and Development Committee strives to enhance the quality of life for the Navajo people through economic partnerships and projects that result in building equitable Navajo financial gains and the creation of job opportunities for the Navajo people from projects like the Red Mesa Tapaha plant.
“At my very core, I want to thank the grazing permit holders, the Dishface family who gave up their land, gave up their grazing rights and gave their consent for a project of this magnitude,” said Chair Jesus.
UAMPS Chief Executive Officer, Mason Baker expressed his appreciation for the continued partnership with NTUA and to the Navajo people. He acknowledged the dedication of the Dishface family who gave up their grazing rights, demonstrating their sacrifice to invest in renewable energy projects.
He extended his gratitude on behalf of UAMPS to take part in this historic project and looks forward to future partnerships with the Nation.
Construction of the solar farm started in 2022 and was completed in the spring of 2023. The Red Mesa Tapaha Solar Farm was officially commissioned in June 2023 and is generating power.