23 homes on the Navajo Nation finally getting electricity

TONALEA, Ariz. (AP) — Tribal President Jonathan Nez has finalized a subgrant agreement between the Navajo Nation and Navajo Tribal Utility Authority to extend power lines to homes in the community of Tonalea, providing long-awaited electricity to at least 23 families.

Several Tonalea residents scheduled to receive electricity attended Saturday’s signing of the agreement for the 23 homes located in the former Bennett Freeze area.

Selena Slim said she has lived in Tonalea her entire life without electricity and spends $75 on a regular basis to purchase gasoline for her generator to provide electric power for her home.

Slim recalled when schools switched to virtual learning at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, she had to pay even more money for gasoline to provide internet service for her children to complete online instruction.

At Saturday’s signing, Nez spoke about the importance of building and improving the tribe’s infrastructure to provide long-term benefits for communities and families.

In 2019, Nez and tribal Vice President Lizer approved $3 million for the design and construction of a new chapter house, which is near completion.

The tribe’s reservation is the country’s largest at 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) and it covers parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.