FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 15, 2022
Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Arizona Congressman Tom O’Halleran Visit with Navajo County and Partners on Renewable Energy Roundtable
Holbrook, AZ - Earlier this week, Navajo County Supervisor Jason Whiting met with Department of Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm, Congressman Tom O’Halleran, and partners throughout the region at Holbrook High School to discuss opportunities to mitigate the impacts of the closure of coal fired powerplants in our region. The economic future of our region is dependent on the successful transition to diversified industries once the coal plants close. This will take the support of federal, state, and local governments.
Elected officials and representatives from throughout our region joined to tell our collective story to Secretary Granholm including: Winslow Vice Mayor Samantha Crisp, Joseph City Unified School District Superintendent Bryan Fields, Navajo County Supervisor District I Jason Whiting, St. Johns City Manager Paul Ramsey, Springerville Town Manager Chris Collopy, Eagar Town Manager Matt Mears, Northland Pioneer College President Dr. Chato Hazelbaker, the Economic Collaborative of Northern Arizona President and CEO Gail Jackson, Salt River Project (SRP) Plant Director Craig Larson, Arizona Public Service (APS) Community Affairs Director of the Northeast Division Janet Dean and Tucson Electric Power (TEP) Engineering Superintendent Cris Patterson.
The Secretary indicated that she was very impressed by the unity she sees in our collaborative effort to work together. She expressed the Department of Energy’s interest in exploring a wide variety of energy options, including nuclear energy, to replace coal-fired energy. Supervisor Whiting added that his interest is in utilizing the existing infrastructure including rail and interstate and work with the federal government to facilitate a transition into other economic opportunities and jobs with the loss of the power plants. As far as industry, he addressed the issue of biomass as a result of forest thinning. Supervisor Whiting noted that in the Northwest, the biomass degrades rapidly and becomes compost but in this region that’s not the case, it does not decompose, and that byproduct needs to be managed and utilized. “A successful solution would be to incorporate biomass into the energy portfolio in a large scalable way. It's expensive but it’s a way to help our forests and it’s another way to produce energy,” he said. The Secretary was very interested in learning more about this opportunity.
Several representatives also stressed the need for high-speed, reliable broadband to attract and entice future businesses to our area. Congressman O’Halleran indicated significant funding for the ongoing broadband efforts will continue. O’Halleran concluded, “The key for us at this time is that the people are listening to how this transition is taking place and there’s opportunities now that may not be there later, or there may be more opportunities because of success. But we have to drive the process and part of that is your unity, your regionalism, your ability to work together is key to doing that. The same with Congress. We have to learn to work together because we’re going to be faster in that process and moving it along for everybody. We cannot go backwards; we have to go forwards and this is the way to do it, working with one another.”
Navajo County will continue to work with our federal delegation and agencies to advocate for this region and bring resources into our communities.
All in attendance expressed sincere appreciation to Secretary Granholm and Representative O’Halleran for taking the time to listen. “We look forward to continued partnerships with our local communities, State, and Federal partners. Additionally, we’d like to express our sincere appreciation to Holbrook High School and the fine young men and women of the student council for hosting this event.”, expressed Navajo County Supervisor, Jason Whiting.
Information sourced from Navajo County in collaboration with The Tribune News.
For more information:
Contact Bryan Layton
Assistant County Manager
Office: (928) 524-4152