Yesterday, we got a tour of the Navajo Generating Station. It’s one of the ten largest coal-fired power plants in the country and produces enough power for about three million homes. It’s owned by a variety of utilities and the US Bureau of Reclamation, which uses some of the power it produces to pump water from the Colorado River to Tuscon and Phoenix. Construction on the plant began in 1969, when the Navajo Nation granted a 50-year lease to the plant. It was built as a compromise with environmental groups like the Sierra Club who opposed two proposed power-generating dams on the Grand Canyon. Currently, the plant provides about 540 full time jobs for Navajos on the reservation, where unemployment is about 50%. It also provides jobs in the Kayenta Coal Mine, operated by Peabody Coal, which supplies three trainfulls of coal to the plant everyday (the train between the plant and mine was fictitiously blown up by the characters in The Monkey Wrench Gang as part of their efforts to stop the spread of industry in the West). The Navajo Generating Station is responsible for one-quarter of the carbon emissions for the entire state of Arizona.
Anyway, here’s what it looks like inside a coal plant.