Today, Navajo Times reported that several Navajo communities received electricity this week for the first time in history. Furthermore, this was possible through the $714 million Navajo Nation CARES Act administered by the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA).
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NTUA on powering Navajo Communities
This week, several Navajo communities received electricity for the first time in their history. Accordingly, this was possible through the $714 million Navajo CARES Act and with funds administered by the NTUA.
In fact, the $714 million Navajo Nation CARES Act funding goes mainly toward the mitigation of COVID-19. Of this, NTUA was given approximately $147 million.
However, $34 million of that was reverted to the Hardship Assistance Program.
Besides using the funds for standard electrical connections, NTUA used the CARES Act money for off-grid solar projects. Also, for water cistern and septic projects. Other funding applications were water line connections, wells, system upgrades, and septic installations.
Therefore, NTUA, along with neighboring utility companies, connected 721 families to the electrical grid when it comes to electricity hookups. For instance, 667 by NTUA crews and 54 by neighboring utility company crews.
“This will be, I think, the last of the many projects that we did with the CARES Act funding,” said Art Blacksheep, NTUA Fort Defiance District electric superintendent.
“Navajo people, we are transitioning into this modern way of living,” he added. Thus, “to see electric power in your house, it feels good, (especially) when you don’t have to go out and strike a match to light up your kerosene lamp. Therefore, I’m happy for these Navajo families.”
In fact, lawmakers took a while to decide how to spend the dollars, finally deciding NTUA to get everything done.
Conditions under COVID-19
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Authority’s workers across the Navajo Nation had to put in 10-hour workdays. In fact, at times, they were delayed because of inclement weather.
“We kept up with what we needed to do,” said a spokesperson. Moreover, “NTUA has their guidelines for the virus that we have to abide by that made it possible for us to go through this pandemic with these projects. Therefore, we tried to stay safe and have enough guys to do the projects we have.”
In this regard, Miss Navajo Nation Shaandiin Parrish also witnessed homeowners receiving electricity for the first time. Accordingly, she shared that to this day, her grandparents and great-grandmother still live without electricity. Thus, this has taught many of the importance of patience and understanding.
Finally, when homes finally get this basic necessity, it’s “a step into 2021,” she said. “This is also a testament to the rest of the country about how we can lower our numbers of COVID-19,” she concluded.