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Navajo Nation maintains electric line that once carried coal-fired power

KAYENTA, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation is spending close to $2 million to maintain access to a transmission line once used to send electricity from a coal-fired power plant to western states.

The tribe acquired the 500-megawatt transmission line as part of an agreement with the owners of the Navajo Generating Station. The power plant near Page shut down in November.

Navajo President Jonathan Nez and tribal lawmakers recently approved the use of $1.9 million to pay for the annual costs of the line. The money goes to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation.

Nez said the tribe could use the transmission line or market it for moving electricity to pay for annual costs or other energy projects.

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A tribal entity had pursued the purchase of the 2,250-megawatt Navajo Generating Station to preserve the revenue and the hundreds of jobs held mostly by Navajos. When the effort fell through, Nez said the tribe would focus on developing renewable energy projects.

Proposals for such projects are vetted by a tribal working group. The tribe also is working to establish an energy office.