Office of City of Los Angeles Councilman Mitch O'Farrell, 13th District
Councilmember Mitch O'Farrell, a member of the Wyandotte Nation and the lone Native American on the Los Angeles City Council, today introduced a motion that moves the City toward a landmark collaboration with the Navajo Nation, the largest federally recognized tribe in the United States.
The Navajo Nation spans approximately 27,000 square miles across the states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico, and an estimated 15,000 Navajo families currently live without access to power infrastructure of any kind. Since 2019, the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) has partnered with the American Public Power Association (APPA) in the ‘Light Up Navajo’ project to bring power and infrastructure to all corners of the Navajo Nation. To date, the project has delivered power to more than 900 families during two phases of work, with a third phase expected to begin in the spring of 2022.
The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) is currently the only California-based utility to be part of ‘Light Up Navajo.’ O’Farrell’s motion, seconded by Councilmember Paul Krekorian, would result in the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) becoming the second California municipality to participate in the project.
“As Los Angeles moves toward its own renewable energy goals, we must also strengthen our partnerships, particularly with our friends in the Navajo Nation,” said Councilmember O’Farrell, the chair of the City Council’s Energy, Climate Change, Environmental Justice, and Los Angeles River Committee. “This is a mutually beneficial project that will further training standards for City employees while directly assisting Navajo families in need. ‘Light Up Navajo’ also provides the City the opportunity to rectify its dirty environmental practices of the past.”
For over 40 years, since the 1970s, Los Angeles purchased inexpensive but dirty power from a now-closed Navajo facility, before divesting and removing itself as a principal partner. Recently, at Councilmember O’Farrell’s direction, the City has explored new renewable energy partnerships with the Navajo. Earlier this month, O’Farrell and Krekorian led a delegation to the Navajo Nation to discuss ‘Light Up Navajo’ and other partnership opportunities.
"This historic partnership exemplifies the City's commitment to environmental justice," said Councilmember Krekorian. "Regrettably, the City's historical legacy sometimes involved environmentally destructive policies that were insensitive to the needs of local communities, including Native Americans. Through 'Light Up Navajo', the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will bring electricity, economic opportunity, and hope to severely underserved communities in the Navajo Nation."
The Navajo Office of the President and Vice President expressed appreciation for Los Angeles’ support of the ‘Light Up Navajo’ initiative. “We thank Councilmembers Mitch O’Farrell and Paul Krekorian for reaching out to the Navajo Nation and witnessing firsthand the success of ‘Light Up Navajo,” said Navajo President Jonathan Nez. “The Navajo Nation looks forward to a long-term relationship with the City of Los Angeles and the Navajo People.”