Navajo Reservation Gains SunWize Solar Solution

Echoing back to earlier times when the Navajo native Americans lived entirely off the land, a renewable energy project has been completed on a modern Navajo Reservation in Arizona. A network of 63 small, solar-electric power installations and small wind turbines scattered throughout the reservation will now bring power to thousands of homes that were previously without power.

Fort Defiance, Arizona – May 14, 2004 [] The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) in Fort Defiance, Arizona, reports there are an estimated 18,000 homes on the Navajo reservation without electrical grid connection. Because the majority of these homes are scattered in remote locations throughout the reservation, it has been difficult for the NTUA to build line extensions. The NTUA is an enterprise of the Navajo Nation established in 1959 by the Navajo Nation Council to provide utility services to the Navajo People. NTUA purchases electrical power from off the Navajo reservation and transmits power to homes throughout the 25,000 square mile Navajo Nation, spreading across northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, and southeastern Utah. The NTUA implemented a renewable energy program to provide these residents the opportunity to obtain electric service at a reasonable cost. The 63 PV Power Stations were designed and supplied by SunWize and assembled in Fort Defiance. NTUA electricians attended an extensive training program headed by SunWize Technologies and included presentations by Morningstar Corporation, Rolls Battery Company, Southwest Windpower and Sandia National Laboratories. “It is our mission to provide quality utility services to our customers,” said Larry Ahasteen, NTUA Renewable Energy Specialist. “It was through our strong partnership with SunWize Technologies that we were able to bring the convenience of electrical power to families who didn’t think it was possible.” The 880-Watt residential SunWize Power Stations use Shell Solar modules, Southwest Windpower wind turbines and comply with the National Electrical Code. The portable units are readily transported and deployed on site. The solar array delivers a minimum of 2 kWh/per day AC in worst month conditions. A battery bank is capable of operating an AC load for 5 days without requiring recharging. Homeowners monitor battery condition with a meter installed inside the home. All components were selected for their ability to withstand the environmental conditions found throughout the Navajo reservation, which can include hail, snow, blowing sand and wind gusts up to 90 mph. The systems were constructed so that NTUA personnel can easily perform semi-annual maintenance, make seasonal tilt adjustments to the solar array and record system diagnostics.

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