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US Tribal Nations Plan 11 Energy Projects With DOE

Eleven Native American communities are planning to implement renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies on tribal lands, thanks to competitively bid acceleration grants from the US Department of Energy. The tribal nations energy grants total nearly $6 million and will combine with community investments of about $7.5 million to activate the projects. Tribal renewable assets comprise about 5% of US national renewable energy resources.

Santo Domingo pueblo from the air (

The new local- and regional-scale projects provide tribes and Alaska native villages with triple-benefit clean energy options. These projects will reduce fossil fuel use and climate-related pollution and save money. They will also support national energy goals, strengthen tribal self-sufficiency, create jobs, and further economic development.

Eight of the tribal nations energy projects involve solar electric technology. One uses both solar electric and solar thermal, another is for a combined heat and power installation, and the last is a large weather retrofit in Alaska. Four are million-dollar projects. The projects to receive funding, in alphabetical order:

  • Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians (Palm Springs, CA) – The Agua Caliente Band will install a 76.9-kW solar photovoltaic system to offset the energy usage costs of the Tribal Education and Family Services offices, saving $20,000 annually.
  • Bishop Paiute Tribe (Bishop, CA) – The Bishop Paiute Tribe’s Residential Solar Program will deploy at least 58 kilowatts of grid-tied rooftop solar PV systems on 22 single-family low-income homes on the reservation, reducing energy use by 60% and saving homeowners about half a million dollars over the life of the systems.
  • Tlingit and Haida Central Council figures ( Council Tlingit & Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska (Juneau, AK) – The Tlingit and Haida Council will complete energy efficiency retrofits to its 40,873 square-foot headquarters building, reducing energy use by 30% and saving $15,399 annually.
  • Oneida Nation of New York (Oneida, NY) – In a large project, the New York Oneida intend to make energy-efficient upgrades at their utility plant, increasing production by 1.4MW and saving $1 million annually.
  • Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin (Oneida, WI) – The Wisconsin Oneida will install 695 kW of solar on nine of the tribe’s government facilities. The systems will generate more than 800,000 kilowatt-hours, reducing energy consumption by 10 percent and saving approximately $73,000 annually.
  • Pala Band of Mission Indians (Pala, CA) – The Pala Band will install a 94-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system at the Pala Fire Station to displace 95% of grid-based electricity for the facility. The system is expected to save over $24,000 the first year and $1.3 million over the life of the system.
  • Santo Domingo Tribe (Santo Domingo Pueblo, NM) – Santo Domingo (formerly known as the Kewa Pueblo), hard hit repeatedly in recent years by wildfire and flooding, will install a ground-mounted, 115-kilowatt PV system to power the tribe’s community water pump and treatment facility, which has the highest energy demand on the reservation. Expected savings are $20,000 annually based on a 75-85% reduction in power consumption.
  • Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians (San Jacinto, CA) – The Soboba Band will install a 1-MW ground-mounted solar PV system to meet 80% of the annual energy needs of key community facilities. The project will provide jobs and $6.4 million in savings over 20 years.
  • Standing Rock Sioux Tribe (Fort Yates, ND) – The Standing Rock Sioux will install 636 kW of solar PV at five Sitting Bull College buildings. The project will decrease short-term energy costs by 20%, saving $74,000 annually and providing significant tribal job and training opportunities at the college.
  • Tonto Apache Tribe (Payson, AZ) – The Tonto Apache will install 172 kilowatts of solar PV and solar water heating systems in its gymnasium, wastewater treatment facility, wastewater holding tank, and the local market. Expected savings are over 35% in electricity and propane costs and approximately $1.6 million over the life of the systems.
  • Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California (Gardnerville, NV) – The Washoe Tribe will install 161 kilowatts of solar PV in the communities of Carson, Stewart, and Dresslerville. This installation will achieve net-zero energy use in seven tribally owned buildings, saving $30,000 annually.
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Written By

covers environmental, health, renewable and conventional energy, and climate change news. She's currently on the climate beat for Important Media, having attended last year's COP20 in Lima Peru. Sandy has also worked for groundbreaking environmental consultants and a Fortune 100 health care firm. She writes for several weblogs and attributes her modest success to an "indelible habit of poking around to satisfy my own curiosity."


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