*

upload_article_image

Long-running coal plant on Navajo Nation stops production

A coal-fired power plant in the Navajo Nation has shut down after operating for nearly 50 years.

The Navajo Generating Station near the northern Arizona community of Page stopped producing electricity on Monday.

The 2,250-megwatt plant was one of the largest in the U.S. West and a longstanding target of environmentalists.

This Aug. 19, 2019, image shows the sun setting behind the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station near Page, Ariz. The power plant will close before the year ends, upending the lives of hundreds of mostly Native American workers who mined coal, loaded it and played a part in producing electricity that powered the American Southwest. (AP PhotoFelicia Fonseca)

They argued it polluted the air and contributed to health problems in nearby communities.

The plant’s owners in 2017 decided to shutter it in favor of cheaper power produced by natural gas. The closure had been expected by year’s end, but the exact day wasn’t certain as the plant depleted a coal stockpile.

The plant employed mostly Native American workers who were offered transfers to other sites in Phoenix.

This Aug. 20, 2019, image shows transmission lines leading from the Navajo Generating Station near Page, Ariz. The power plant will close before the year ends. Other coal-fired plants in the region and in the U.S. are on track to shut down or reduce output as utilities turn to natural gas and renewable energy. (AP PhotoSusan Montoya Bryan)

The coal mine that feeds the plant also closed.

In this Aug. 21, 2019, image, a Navajo Generating Station employee holds a challenge coin that was given to workers at the plant near Page, Ariz.. The coal-fired plant will close before the year ends, upending the lives of hundreds of mostly Native American workers who mined coal, loaded it and played a part in producing electricity that powered the American Southwest. (AP PhotoSusan Montoya Bryan)

This Aug. 20, 2019, image shows the coal stockpile at the Navajo Generating Station near Page, Ariz. Before the end of the year, the power plant near the Arizona-Utah border will close and others in the region are on track to shut down or reduce their output in the next few years. (AP PhotoSusan Montoya Bryan)

This Aug. 20, 2019, image shows a trio of concrete stacks at the Navajo Generating Station near Page, Ariz. The power plant will close before the year ends, upending the lives of hundreds of mostly Native American workers who mined coal, loaded it and played a part in producing electricity that powered the American Southwest. (AP PhotoSusan Montoya Bryan)