Jun 3, 2022 - News

Austin Energy crew helps power Navajo Nation

Austin Energy personnel help erect an electric pole in Navajo Nation.
Austin Energy personnel help erect an electric pole in Navajo Nation. Photo: Alysa Landry for APPA via Austin Energy

Austin Energy personnel in May went way off the grid — all the way to Arizona to help light up homes in the Navajo Nation.

Driving the news: An eight-person crew from the city-owned utility headed to Kayenta, Arizona — about 1,000 miles away — to construct an eight-pole line extension to bring power to families without it.

Why it matters: No electricity limits access to running water, reliable lighting and modern forms of heating and cooling.

  • Some families in Navajo Nation have to drive 1.5 hours weekly to reach watering points and use portable coolers to preserve food, utility officials say.

What they're saying: "The work was very touching and emotional and I'm glad we were able to make a difference in their lives," Daniel Bouvier, an Austin Energy lineworker, said.

The project was a partnership with the nonprofit Navajo Tribal Utility Authority and the American Public Power Association.

Flashback: Last year, witnessing homeowners receive electricity for the first time from the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, Miss Navajo Nation Shaandiin Parrish told the Navajo Times that her grandparents and great-grandmother still lived without electricity.

  • When homes finally get this basic necessity, it's "a step into 2021," she said.
  • "But it also makes us realize where we stand on a global scale. I hope this is a testimony to our people's patience, perseverance and resilience."
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