The 3,000 members of the Jemez Pueblo tribe in New Mexico are looking to build the first utility-scale solar power plant on tribal land. They are also looking to make some money on it.
It is no secret that Native American tribes are more likely to be poverty-stricken and they generally have more than twice the unemployment rate of the United States. Former Jemez Pueblo governor James Roger Magdalena says, “We don’t have any revenue coming in except for a little convenience store.”
It is estimated this solar power plant could generate $25 million over the next quarter century and help create a sustainable revenue for his tribe.
Mr. Magdalena sees the environmental changes that need to occur around the world and sees the economic potential in these changes as well. For his community, he says, “It’s very critical that we become innovative, creative, that we come up with something that will last generations without having a devastating impact on the environment.”
This project is supposed to include 14,850 solar panels on 30 acres. The cost of the project is estimated at $22 million and will be financed through various government loans, grants and tax credits.
The Department of Energy (DOE), itself, sees a lot of potential for solar power on Native American lands. They report that on the 55 million acres owned by Native American tribes, solar projects could currently generate up to 17 trillion kilowatt hours per year.
Continually, reports and forecasts predict that clean energy will create a substantial amount of new jobs and boost the economy (see: Green Economy = More Jobs; Green Jobs: A Down Payment on the Workforce of Tomorrow; and UK’s Tony Blair Finds Climate Action Will Increase Global GDP & Create Millions of Jobs).
Could Native Americans finally get a little better reimbursement for the lands the United States took from them? Perhaps, but it seems they may not be looking at this greedily or as a reimbursement at all. Native American energy consultant Roger Fragua says, “Indian people have always given. We have an opportunity to give once again to America and her energy security.”
via Cooler Planet
Image Credit: Rob Lee via flickr under a CC license