Power plant decision could strain Navajo budget

Aug 10, 2012

Navajo Nation officials say the tribal budget will be strained further if three units of a northwestern New Mexico coal plant close sooner than 2014.

Tribal spokesman Erny Zah says the tribe had been prepared for the units at the Four Corners Power Plant to close in two years. But the plant's operator says decommissioning will start once it acquires ownership of the other two units, which is expected later this year.

Zah says that would mean a $9 million annual loss from coal royalties.

Zah says tribal President Ben Shelly is looking at ways to make up the money and any cuts in federal funding. Shelly already has told executive branch leaders to cut next year's budgets by 10 percent. The tribe's budget for the 2012 fiscal year was $173 million.

No layoffs are planned.