Birmingham’s Altec Industries is reaching its long arms west to the Navajo Nation — to households that are among the last to be connected to an electric utility.
Altec, one of Alabama’s largest manufactures, makes hydraulic lift trucks for electric utilities, and it donated a flock of these trucks to the Light Up the Navajo Nation project.
Across Utah, Arizona and New Mexico lays a stretch of 27,000 square feet of breathtaking scenery, snow-capped mountains, canyons, mesas and unique rock formations. Affectionately known as the Navajo Nation, this land is home to approximately 190,000 members of the Navajo Tribe.
Of these members, 15,000 of these homes do not have electricity. This makes up 75 percent of all households in the United States without power. To combat this lack of electric service, the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) commissioned the Light Up the Navajo Nation pilot project.
During this six-week project, 26 line crews from all across the United States worked from April to May installing power lines and bringing electricity to more than 200 Navajo families. By donating their time, equipment and resources, this project was completed at no cost to the Navajo families. Established in 1959, the NTUA is the sole utility provider for the Navajo Nation, offering electric, natural gas, water and wastewater services.
Denise Becenti, Government and Public Affairs Manager for the NTUA, said this project has been life changing for the Navajo Nation.
“We heard from families that told us how thankful and grateful they are to have electricity, refrigeration, to be able to buy a gallon of milk for the first time and put it in the refrigerator without having to worry about whether or not it’s going to spoil in a few days,” Becenti said.
Roger Stash, his wife and three sons are members of the Navajo tribe that have lived without power for many years. Now, thanks to the NTUA and the Light Up the Navajo project, the Stash family can turn on lights in their home for the first time.
“It’s very exciting because we have waited so long for this, my kids are so happy because they get to do their homework in the light now,” Stash said.
Stash continued, thanking the crews that volunteered their time to give their home electricity, “I really appreciate what they are doing, getting power in two days is really quick.”
Becenti said the Navajo community is grateful for all of the resources these utility companies and their crews have donated to the project. She says this initiative has been successful and hopes the project will continue in the future.
“We are truly grateful for the communities that sent their crews here to the Southwest to unknown territories to be a part of a project that these families will remember for years to come,” Becenti said.