NTUA explains recent Kayenta region outages

FORT DEFIANCE, ARIZ. - A combination of vandalism and lightning kept Navajo Tribal Utility Authority electric line crews busy, answering major electrical power outages in the northwestern part of the Navajo Nation over the past week.
     On Thursday evening, the NTUA dispatch center notified Kayenta crew that the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) alerted NTUA that two breakers at the Kayenta 230 Substation had tripped, shutting down power to the entire Kayenta region, including Black Mesa, Forest Lake, Dennehotso, Kaibeto, and the Chinle Valley.
     According to WAPA, the breakers tripped because of lightning. The outage lasted 3.5 hours.
     “WAPA supplies power to NTUA. Under our agreement, if one of their breakers trips and shuts down power, we can’t fix it because it is their equipment,” said Kenneth L. Craig, NTUA Interim General Manager. “They then dispatch their own people. In this case, they sent someone from Page (Arizona) to Kayenta.”
     Earlier in the week, electric line crews responded to a power outage report from the Kayenta area. The outage was isolated to the Rock Point regulator station that serves as a primary electrical power link to the Kayenta and Chinle Valley areas. Bullet holes were discovered. The bullets caused major leakage to the cooling section, causing a part of the system to leak oil and short out. The outage lasted for 4.5 hours.
     Damage estimates put the repair price tag at $455,000, which includes $375,000 alone for the cooling unit.
     “If something happens at this station and a breaker shuts off, then the whole system shuts down,” Mr. Craig said. “This act of vandalism disrupted electrical service to the entire region from Kayenta to Dennehotso.”
     Navajo police were notified and a report was filed. NTUA is asking individual(s) who may have information relating to this incident to contact Navajo police authorities.
     “This destruction of property forced communities and hundreds of customers to be without electrical power for hours,” he said. “Sadly, it’s the customers who pay - in terms of the inconvenience and the repairs.”