Log In

Reset Password
News Education Local News Nation & World New Mexico

Navajo energy company invests in carbon capture effort

The San Juan Generating Station outside of Farmington seen across the plant’s cooling pond in 2012. (Courtesy of Public Service Co. of New Mexico)

FARMINGTON – Navajo Transitional Energy Company has invested in another energy company that is aiming to develop a large-scale platform for carbon capture services.

The deal puts NTEC on Enchant Energy Corp.’s board of directors, the Farmington Daily Times reported.

Enchant Energy is working with the city of Farmington to take over the coal-fired San Juan Generating Station when it is officially abandoned by Public Service Co. of New Mexico later this year. PNM, the state’s largest electric utility, has cited concerns over Enchant’s financing and ability to make carbon capture technology work there.

“With this investment, NTEC gains a board seat and will utilize their expertise to help the company yield strong investor returns and embrace environmental goals,” NTEC CEO Vern Lund said in a news release.

State regulators last week said PNM was within its rights to run one unit at the plant through September in an effort to meet peak summer demands and avoid blackouts.

That will change Enchant’s schedule to take over the plant but also gives the company three more months to work out deals with the plant’s many owners.

Enchant CEO Cindy Crane said she does not oppose PNM’s extended operations and also welcomes NTEC as an investor.

“Our shared goals include giving back to our community, while using cutting-edge technology to decarbonize electric power, enabling sustainable development, and demonstrating that CCS can help avoid emissions from existing power plants through retrofits,” she said. “NTEC’s expertise will be invaluable.”

Enchant first announced in 2019 that it planned to convert the San Juan plant by installing equipment that would capture carbon emissions. That carbon dioxide would then be sent via pipeline to storage sites in New Mexico and Texas where it could be used to help with oil production.

With the investment, Lund said NTEC is furthering its commitment to diversifying its portfolio by acquiring shares in an enterprise focused on addressing the challenge of meeting climate goals through capturing and sequestering carbon emissions from existing power plants and industrial facilities in the western U.S.

The investment was not well received by the Navajo environmental group Diné CARE, which argued that such carbon capture projects have not been successful in the U.S.

“This does not sound like a financially sound or profit-generating investment for a tribal corporation,” said Robyn Jackson, the group’s climate and energy outreach coordinator

NTEC describes itself as a limited liability company organized under the laws of the Navajo Nation. It owns mines in New Mexico, Wyoming and Montana.

When the company was formed in 2013, it was by legislation approved by the Navajo Nation Council and then-President Ben Shelly. That legislation mandated the Navajo Nation’s direct involvement in the oversight and management of NTEC through five member representatives.

Currently serving as member representatives are tribal delegates Paul Begay, Nathaniel Brown, Eugenia Charles-Newton, Pernell Halona and Rick Nez.

Brown and Charles-Newton both said they did not know about NTEC’s investment in Enchant.

Begay, Halona and Nez could not immediately be reached for comment. Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez also did not reply to a request for comment.