President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer with New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on Aug. 6, 2019. (Navajo Nation)
The Navajo Nation is paving the path forward for the development of its Paragon Bitsi Ranch solar development project in the Navajo community of Huerfano in the state of New Mexico. The project is supported by $2 million in New Mexico capital outlay funds, approved by New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for this particular project, which aligns with the state of New Mexico’s “Energy Transition Act” that established new renewable energy standards.
Last week, the Nation issued a Request for Proposals to begin the process of selecting a developer to design and construct the solar utility-scale development, slated for approximately 660 acres of land.
At a press conference Tuesday with Gov. Lujan Grisham and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller at the Albuquerque Convention Center, concerning several initiatives to promote renewable energy in the state of New Mexico, President Nez said: “We are proud to join Sen. Heinrich, Gov. Lujan Grisham, and the city of Albuquerque in moving the entire state forward with renewable energy development to benefit our communities, our economy, and the long-term sustainability of the state and the Navajo Nation.”
Prior to the press conference, President Nez and Vice President Lizer also met with Gov. Lujan Grisham at the Governor’s Office in Santa Fe, where they discussed renewable energy, Capital Outlay Funds, the Tribal Infrastructure Fund, Impact Aid for students, and the state’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force.
Gov. Lujan Grisham and New Mexico Indian Affairs Secretary Lynn Trujillo commended the Nez-Lizer Administration’s work to create renewable energy opportunities through partnerships with the state and other entities.
“We are always stronger when we stand together. It was a privilege to speak alongside President Nez, Senator Heinrich and Mayor Keller and so many other New Mexico leaders who have prioritized clean energy. Today was a demonstration of New Mexicans’ shared priorities around creating a thriving and diversified energy economy that works for all of us while protecting what we already have,” stated Gov. Lujan Grisham.
“Today marks a historic victory for the Navajo Nation and the State of New Mexico with the announcement of the Paragon-Bisti Solar Park. Renewable energy projects like this are helping to ensure that all New Mexicans will have access to clean, affordable, renewable energy,” said Indian Affairs Secretary Trujillo.
She added, “Through the leadership of Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and our Legislature we are one step closer to the vision of a renewable energy economy in New Mexico. I applaud the Navajo Nation’s work to achieve this major milestone and we look forward to working with the Nation on more opportunities to build a clean energy future here in New Mexico.”
On August 2, President Nez met with Navajo Hopi Land Commission members at Twin Arrows Navajo Casino Resort, where he discussed the progress of the Paragon Bitsi Ranch solar development project. In addition to the $2 million in New Mexico capital outlay funds that was approved by Gov. Lujan Grisham to be used for this particular project, the Nez-Lizer Administration is proposing additional funds in the upcoming Navajo Nation FY2020 Comprehensive Budget to fully establish a Navajo Energy Office under the Navajo Nation Division of Natural Resources that would serve as the “clearinghouse” for energy development for the entire Nation.
President Nez, who was part of the Navajo Hopi Land Commission when he was a member of the Navajo Nation Council, acknowledged the work of previous Navajo Hopi Land Commission members who began working on this initiative years ago. “Based on the work of past and current leaders, this project is now in a position to move forward. Working together, we can make this project a reality and it can serve as an example for future renewable energy projects in other communities as well,” said President Nez.