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More than 200 families on Navajo Nation in Arizona get power

(Salt River Project photo)

PHOENIX — Hundreds of Native American families on the Navajo Nation in northeastern Arizona now have electricity for the first time.

The 228 families were among the 60,000 residents who were provided electricity on the 27,000-square-mile reservation that lies in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.

Salt River Project crews were directly responsible for connecting 42 of the families as part of the “Light Up Navajo” project, according to a press release.

“There are so many things we take for granted like running water and power, but families we helped to energize had never had either,” Kory Nichols, SRP manager of field maintenance, said in a statement.

“It is very humbling that people are living like this in northeastern Arizona – in our own backyard.”

Thirty employees from the Arizona utility in metro Phoenix returned home this week after participating in the project, setting 249 poles and stringing 26 miles of overhead wire.

They worked 12-hour days, seven days a week since April in order to get the electricity up and running.

The utility — one of 25 uthat participated — also donated line trucks, digging equipment and a mechanic service truck.

“The challenge our linemen usually face is restoring power to customers – especially during storm season. However, during this assignment, we built completely new electrical infrastructure,” said Bret Marchese, SRP director of distribution maintenance, said in a statement.

“I will never forget seeing the faces of the people who received power for the first time. It was an honor to help improve the quality of life for residents on the Navajo Nation.”

The project was led by the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority and American Public Power Association, which funded the project with a $125,000 grant.

KTAR News 92.3 FM’s Jim Cross contributed to this report. 

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