NTUA connects electricity for over 100 homes
using CARES Act funds, more projects making progress
WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. – Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez and Vice President Myron Lizer received an update report from Navajo Tribal Utility Authority on Saturday, indicating that NTUA’s electric line crews have connected over 100 homes to the electric grid using CARES Act funds that were included in Resolution CJY-67-20, which was approved by the 24th Navajo Nation Council and signed into law by President Nez and Vice President Lizer on Aug. 16.
The connection of more homes is in the process as NTUA prioritizes CARES Act projects in order to meet the December 2020 deadline to use the funds. Internally, teams are meeting frequently on every level – districts to headquarters – to monitor the progress, identify issues, recommend fixes, and implement changes to ensure that NTUA reaches its goal. NTUA is planning to extend electricity to 510 families, which includes over 350 families that were identified during the 2020 LIGHT UP NAVAJO II application process. With the CARES Act funding, NTUA electric line crews will do their best to connect all the homes.
“We commend NTUA for expediting the projects and coordinating quickly to begin connecting homes to the electric grid. The CARES Act funds are being used and we are seeing the results thanks to the hard work of NTUA and all of their work crews. COVID-19 has devastated many communities and families and with the work being completed by NTUA, we are hopeful that our people will have access to electricity and water to help minimize the impacts of this pandemic. We are optimistic that NTUA will be able to connect electricity for well over 500 families by the end of the year,” said President Nez.
With the CARES Act funds, NTUA was allocated $13.8 million for power line projects, $24.7 million to increase overall electric grid capacity, $20.9 million for cisterns systems, $18.6 million for wastewater systems, and $32.8 million for wireless and broadband expansion.
In addition, NTUA continues to accept applications from residents for its residential solar program, which was allocated $35.1 million in CARES Act funds. If you are interested in the solar program, please visit www.ntua.com under CARES Act-NTUA Projects.
“The progress that NTUA is making is an example of what can be done when we work together to address the red tape and expedite the use of funds for the benefit of our Navajo citizens. The work that NTUA is doing is commendable and we appreciate everyone from the management level to the boots on the ground. We want the use of the CARES Act funds to be transparent and we want all funds to be accounted for to show our people what progress is being made,” stated Vice President Lizer.
“We are grateful Navajo Nation leaders approved the legislation which will dramatically improve the quality of life for so many families,” said NTUA General Manager Walter Haase. “With the CARES Act funding, we will proceed with an end-of-December completion goal. Navajo Nation leaders have entrusted us with these major utility projects. This is especially critical with the presence of the devastating COVID-19 virus throughout the region. We are working on an expedited schedule because people are depending on us.”
NTUA’s telecommunications division has also completed the construction of the Pinedale, N.M. tower, which is now connected to the electric grid. The backhaul is scheduled to be completed this month and NTUAW crews are scheduled to complete the installation of the broadcast stations and will start testing by Oct. 15. NTUA’s fiber optic backbone upgrade from 10 Gbps to 100 Gbps is also well under way with an expected completion date of Oct. 31. 27 of the 31 Wi-Fi Hot spots have been installed. We now plan to build 32. The remaining five Wi-Fi hotspots are scheduled to be completed by the end of September. NTUA Wireless has ordered over $12 million of the long lead time materials for the 102 new broadband broadcast stations.
For the communities of Beclabito, Summit East, and Woodsprings, the land leases are acquired, the engineering completed, and the contracts have been awarded for the tower materials and build with a target completion date of Nov. 30. The installation of backhaul, broadcast stations, and testing is scheduled to be completed by Dec. 23. The right-of-way for the Kaibeto fiber line has been acquired, the engineering design is completed, and the construction contract has been awarded. The fiber installation is scheduled to be completed by Sept. 31 and electronics installation is scheduled to be completed by Oct. 31.
Environmental and hydrogeological studies and the designs for three new water wells have been completed for the communities of Houck, Ganado, and Thoreau. The design has been completed for the replacement of the Park Estates water system in Sanders, Ariz. and a construction contract is currently under negotiation. 34 of 56 well pumps and motors have been upgraded and two of 10 wells have been renovated. The contracts for heavy renovations for two major water tanks in Window Rock have been executed. The Right-of-Way and design have been completed for capacity expansion of the Pinon wastewater lagoon, and construction is underway.
Additionally, designs are being completed for upgrades of a major section of wastewater trunk line in Window Rock and a wash crossing in Tohatchi. Engineering services have been procured for the renovation of wastewater lift stations in Iyanbito and LeChee. The five existing potable watering stations have been repaired in Leupp, Wide Ruins, Lake Valley, Bodaway Gap, and Lupton. Four new stations have been designed and will be constructed in Ft. Defiance, Cameron, Lower Greasewood, and Cameron. Five additional watering stations are entering the design stage.
Overall, the Navajo Nation received over $714 million in CARES Act funds: $600 million on May 6, $86 million on June 16, and $27 million on June 18. Approximately $537 million in CARES Act funds has been approved and signed into law, leaving a remaining amount of $176 million, which the Nez-Lizer Administration is proposing to use these funds to directly help Navajo students, elders, families, and others impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic through Legislation No. 0209-20.