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Navajo Nation group backs out of bid to buy coal plant, mine

The Navajo Transitional Energy Co. will not buy the Navajo Generating Station or the Kayenta coal mine, which supplies the Arizona plant, after a committee in the tribal nation's governing council voted against supporting the company's bid to make the purchases.

"Due to continued demand by the owners of the Navajo Generating Station that the Navajo Nation provide an unlimited guarantee of any liability for the decommissioning of the plant, Navajo Transitional Energy Company, is forced to cease its acquisition effort," the company said in a statement.

Members of the Navajo Council introduced new legislation that proposes "rescinding the Navajo Nation's current energy policies, which are focused on coal, and replacing them with a vision that 'declares the intention of the Nation to move beyond coal source revenues and forward to sustainable and renewable energy sources.'"

Plant operator Salt River Project, which owns a 43% share in the 2,250-MW plant, announced previously that it would close the plant by the end of this year after it failed to come to terms with Navajo Nation.

Peabody Energy Corp., which operates the Kayenta coal mine, announced March 21 that it would lay off 40 employees. The mine produced 6.2 million tons of coal in 2017, according to the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration.

The Navajo Transitional Energy Co. intended to purchase the mine and the plant to create a vertically integrated energy company that could operate through 2029.