FARMINGTON, N.M. (AP) — A company owned by the Navajo Nation finished its purchase of a northwestern New Mexico coal mine the same day an Arizona utility took ownership of a California utility’s stake in a power plant that gets its fuel from the mine.
BHP Billiton completed the $85 million sale of the Navajo Mine near Farmington to the Navajo Transitional Energy Co. LLC on Monday. The mine produces 8.5 million tons of coal annually.
BHP will continue to operate the mine until 2016.
Tribal officials have said the acquisition is a major step in taking control of the reservation’s coal resources.
“It puts Navajo Nation in control of its own destiny,” LoRenzo Bates, chairman of the Tribal Council’s Budget and Finance Committee, said in October.
In a related transaction, Arizona Public Service Co. on Monday completed its purchase of Southern California Edison’s ownership of Units 4 and 5 at the Four Corners Power Plant near Farmington for approximately $182 million.
As another part of a previously announced plan to bring the plant into compliance with federal clean air standards, APS permanently closed Units 1, 2 and 3 on Monday. It also will install additional emission controls on the two remaining units.
“This is a milestone occasion,” said Don Brandt, APS chairman, president and CEO. “We have completed a transaction that will benefit the environment, allow us to continue to support the economy of the Navajo Nation and surrounding community, and help electric users in the Southwest with an important, low-cost generating resource.”
The plant provides electricity to about 300,000 households in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.
APS said its acquisition of Southern California Edison’s interest in Units 4 and 5 now gives APS ownership of 63 percent of those units.
Also, APS on Monday filed an application with the Arizona Corporation Commission to recover costs tied to the purchase of the California utility’s interest in the plant. It would mean a rate increase of $2.77 per month for the typical APS residential customer, the company said.