The American Public Power Association (APPA) earned a 2020 ASAE Power of A Summit Award for Light Up Navajo, an initiative to connect unelectrified rural households of the Navajo Nation to the grid. ASAE honored the program in the category of the Power of Community Support and Engagement.

The Navajo Nation is the largest Native American territory in the United States, with an estimated population of 300,000. Their unelectrified homes make up 75% of all unelectrified households in the United States. The high cost of connecting isolated rural households to the grid, the sensitivity of families to utility costs, and the limited availability of government loans made progress towards greater electrification slow. To expedite electrification projects in the Navajo Nation, APPA partnered with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) to create Light Up Navajo.

Light Up Navajo began in Spring 2019, bringing together volunteer crews from public power electric utilities across the country to connect Navajo homes to the grid. Within six weeks, the volunteer crews connected more than 230 homes to electricity. More than a dozen members of APPA’s staff and more than 130 individuals from 27 utilities (representing 12 states) joined in the effort–ultimately bringing electricity to more than 230 homes.

According to APPA, the experience changed the lives of not only the families connected to the power grid but also the volunteers who got to experience the beauty of the Navajo Nation and assist its kind people. By leveraging the concept of “mutual aid without a storm,” the effort has served as a successful model for future electrification projects.

ASAE’s Power of A (association) Awards, the industry’s highest honor, recognize the association community’s valuable contributions on the local, national and global levels.  The Power of A Awards reward the outstanding accomplishments of associations and industry professionals who work tirelessly to solve problems, and strengthen lives, the workforce, the economy, and the world.

APPA and the other winners will be honored virtually on September 30 from 6-7:30pm EDT. Tickets are complimentary and sponsorship opportunities are available. This year’s virtual experiences will offer attendees featured options such as a cooking demonstration, mixology class, live music by Keb’ Mo’, an American blues musician and five-time Grammy Award winner, comedy by Kasha Patel and Robert Mac and finally a live, in-program presentation by singer-songwriter Caitlyn Smith. (Check out Caitlyn’s special message here.) All musical entertainment has been provided by Nashville and Music City Center.

Thank you to all who entered, and congratulations to all the winners.  For more information, please contact Chris Vest at cvest@asaecenter.org.