Wally Haase, general manager, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, spoke at the American Public Power Association’s National Conference on June 19, 2018.
Haase explained that the NTUA was created in 1959 because investor-owned utilities, co-ops and municipals that were to serve the region just didn’t meet the utility needs of the Navajo people. He emphasized that Navajo homesteads were typically located in rural isolated areas.
How to solve this problem? Haase said the first few times he gave speeches on this issue that people came up to him and said, not only should this never have happened, but that the government should fix this. After all, the government helped the rest of the United States back in the 1930s with the Rural Electrification Administration, now the Rural Utilities Service.
“I have spent the last 10 years of my life trying to make the government aware of this situation and we've had some mild success. We've connected over 3,000 families over that ten-year period of time so that's over 12,000 people. But it's too slow of a course of action. Also, like anywhere else, when you bring a new service to a region, more people come home. So we've actually connected more than 3,000 folks, but the net gain in reducing folks without electricity has only been 3,000. So while it's beneficial — it's a great thing — I'm getting older and I'd like to see the problem solved. And it's simple.
“To me it's a moral imperative; it shouldn't have occurred in the first place and we need to find a solution to the problem.”