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Murray Journal

Murray City Power helps light up the Navajo Nation

Jun 04, 2024 01:30PM ● By Bailey Chism

Murray City Power crews worked 14 hour days while helping the Light Up Navajo initiative. (Photo from Murray City Power Facebook)

It’s 2024, and some homes still don’t have electricity. For thousands of people in the Navajo Nation, living off-grid is still a reality for them. So Murray Power stepped in and helped bring light into their homes. 

Murray Power is sending a crew, as part of the “Light Up Navajo” initiative, to help connect residents there to the electrical grid. 

Groups from all over the country are part of the project, dedicated to ensuring homes in the Navajo Nation have the power they need. Murray is sending a group of three journeyman lineman and one apprentice lineman with one 60-foot bucket truck and one crew truck. 

“Murray [employees] also get some much-needed training hours for our lineman. Our guys line up every year hoping to be a part of such a wonderful project,” said Eric Bracewell, operations manager for Murray City Power. 

The cost of connecting isolated rural households to the grid is high, in part due to high utility costs and limited government loans. These setbacks have made the progress toward greater electrification slow. To help, the American Public Power Association (APPA), in partnership with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA), launched the Light Up Navajo initiative. 

“To bring power to our citizens who have been living without is probably the most gratifying thing that we can do as lineman,” Bracewell said. 

The initiative officially launched in April with 42 electric companies from 16 states going to participate through July. This year’s goal is to connect at least 200 houses to the electric grid. Last year, 26 electric companies took part in the initiative and connected 159 homes to the power grid. 

In a statement on the initiative’s website, the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority general manager said, “We are grateful for the outside utilities who want to help bring positive change for families waiting for electricity. The communities these utilities represent learned about our challenges and were prompted to be a part of this dramatically meaningful project.”

The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American territory in the United States, with an estimated population of around 300,000. The Nation occupies portions of northeastern Arizona, southeastern Utah and northwestern New Mexico. 

Electrifying just one house on the reservation is expensive. Each household, on average, requires one transformer, 0.6 miles of wire, nine poles, 16 insulators, and two arrestors to connect to the electric grid. That averages out to around $5,500 per house. 

“We are grateful to have the support of our mayor, city council members, and our department leaders to continue to help with this,” Bracewell said. “We hope that we will be able to support the Light Up Navajo project until the mission is complete.” λ