Published June 29, 2016
TOHATCHI, NEW MEXICO – Navajo Transitional Energy Company took another step in furthering its goal of building a sustainable community through resource development with the passage of a resolution by the Tohatchi Chapter. The resolution allows for a feasibility study to be conducted at a hot springs located on the east side of Tohatchi for the purposes of building a geothermal project.
“This step marks another step to our commitment toward diversifying our energy portfolio and looking ahead to cleaner energy projects. Our charter includes investing into clean energy projects for the Navajo Nation,” said NTEC CEO Clark Moseley.
NTEC’s charter mandate that states the company must invest at least ten percent of its net income into clean energy project development.
Tohatchi Chapter voters overwhelmingly passed the resolution 34 votes in favor with zero opposed and eight abstentions.
The Chapter resolution allows for resource exploration, a project feasibility study, and allows NTEC to seek outside funding for energy development pertaining to the geothermal project.
“Overall, we have received very favorable responses from the community as we informed them that we want to develop the hot springs,” said Sam Woods, NTEC’s business development manager.
NTEC started exploring potential geothermal projects in the fall of 2015 and formed a partnership with the Colorado School of Mines to develop the project. The project would include geothermal greenhouses that would grow local plants and trees and with a goal to provide jobs for the local community. The greenhouses will also work in conjunction with NTEC’s goal of building capacity at Navajo Technical University by supplying opportunities for student research and collaboration in the project.
“We are interested in projects that will empower communities with economic growth,” said Dr. Masami Nakagawa, associate professor at the Colorado School of Mines.
Dr. Nakagawa said he has spent several years examining various types of geothermal projects and wants to start a project that helps the community with economic development.
The project is intended to have community input to help guide the development of the project and its economic impact.
“A greenhouse has the potential to create economic growth in a community like Tohatchi. We can build a small scale project using geothermal technology,” Woods said.
The long term goal is to create a geo-park for renewable and alternative energy research and production.
A team from Colorado School of Mines visited the hot springs in Tohatchi and other communities in February to test the hot springs for heat production and viability as an energy source. Students then explored various ways that the Navajo people could use the natural resources in Tohatchi to develop their economy in a sustainable way that respects and benefits the community and allows for their participation.
Woods said now that the chapter has approved the resolution, NTEC and Colorado School of Mines can move forward with more in-depth analysis to match current technologies with the hot springs at Tohatchi.
“We are honored that this project fits NTEC’s goals to diversify its energy portfolio. I know a great deal of time has gone into identifying the type of project we should proceed with, and this project has a great deal of potential. We believe strongly in our goal to find sound and solid investments into clean energy,” said Steve Gundersen, NTEC Management Committee chair.