New report: Arizona utility regulators must take immediate action to enable a just and equitable transition for coal-impacted communities

September 30, 2021

Sandy Bahr, Sierra Club Grand Canyon (Arizona) |, 602-999-5790
Ellen Zuckerman, SWEEP |, 609-610-2989
Adrian Herder, Tó Nizhóní Ání, |, 928-380-3914


[PHOENIX, AZ] – A new report released today by the Empowered Transition initiative recommends that Arizona utility regulators take immediate action to enable a just and equitable transition for coal-impacted communities.

The report documents dozens of testimonials of Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe members, small business owners, and local elected officials who are or will soon be facing the economic hardships that come with utility decisions to shut down coal power plants without proper planning.

The report identifies five recommendations for Arizona utility regulators to implement immediately, including approval of the $145 million Just and Equitable Transition agreement brokered between the Navajo Nation and Arizona Public Service Company (APS), the state’s largest electric utility.

That agreement is slated for a vote by Arizona Corporation Commissioners next week.

“As the Southwest moves toward a future without coal, we have a moral and ethical obligation to support the communities that will be left behind,” said Elise Jones, Executive Director of the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP). “Every time we turn on a light or plug in a cell phone, we should be reminded that these communities provided the resources and workers that allowed Arizona to grow and prosper — and now it is our turn to help them rebuild and thrive.”

“There is no environmental justice if we do not address the inequities and harm that have been exacerbated by the failure of utilities to adequately invest in and plan for transition in these coal-impacted communities that have long suffered from pollution and impacts to their water associated with these coal plants,” said Sandy Bahr, Chapter Director, Sierra Club, Grand Canyon (Arizona) Chapter. “Just and equitable transition must be at the forefront of any clean energy plan.”

“We’re past recognizing that utilities have a responsibility to assist the people and communities that provided the electricity and water that helped Arizona grow and prosper,” said Adrian Herder of the Navajo grassroots group Tó Nizhóni Ání, who helped organize the town hall meetings. “Navajo Generating Station and Kayenta Mine closed two years ago, and we’re still waiting for the funding and support that are needed to help rebuild our communities. We’re counting on the Commission to do the right thing and not turn their backs on the tens of thousands of Arizonans feeling the economic hardships of utility business decisions.”

The Empowered Transition initiative launched earlier this year to give a voice to the individuals, businesses, workers, and Tribal community members impacted by Arizona’s transition to a carbon-free future. It is a collaboration of numerous tribal, consumer, and environmental organizations, including SWEEP and the Sierra Club. Over the last several months, the initiative has collected hundreds of written testimonials, hosted five virtual town halls, and conducted public outreach and education on a just and equitable transition.

Empowered Transition is holding a press conference on Monday, October 4th, at 8:30 a.m. in front of the Arizona Corporation Commission offices located at 1200 W. Washington Street Phoenix, AZ 85007. The press conference will call for immediate action on a just and equitable transition as the utility regulators are poised to vote on the agreement between APS and the Navajo Nation.


The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) is a public interest organization promoting greater energy efficiency in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Utah, and Wyoming.

Tó Nizhóní Ání is located on the Black Mesa Plateau on the Navajo Nation and was organized to protect the water sources of Black Mesa from industry use and waste. Their goal is to bring power back to our indigenous communities impacted by coal.

Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon (Arizona) Chapter works to protect Arizona’s wild places, wildlife, and waters, as well as the people and communities who depend on them. They also promote renewable energy, energy efficiency, and smart transportation solutions in order to reduce energy consumption and pollution.