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Solar Power Comes To Standing Rock Reservation

The 300 kilowatt CannonBall Community Solar Power plant on the Standing Rock Reservation is the largest solar power farm in North Dakota.

CannonBall solar power park

CannonBall Community Solar Farm. Image courtesy GivePower

Ordinarily, a 300 kilowatt solar power plant wouldn’t be a story on CleanTechnica. Usually the solar installations we write about produce at least a gigawatt of electricity. Many of them generate far more. However, this particular solar facility is notable because it is located on the Standing Rock Reservation, just two miles from the Dakota Access pipeline that was the focus of a furious protest movement in 2016.

In fact, it is the largest solar installation in North Dakota, which has the dubious distinction of ranking dead last among all US states when it comes to solar energy production. Even little Rhode Island generates more solar power.

In case you have forgotten, the Dakota Access pipeline was originally supposed to go near the city of Bismark, but the lily white residents of that city objected to the route. What if the pipeline developed a leak? Why, Bismark could see its public drinking water system contaminated. Can’t have that.

Better to send the North Dakota state police, the US Army, and a battalion of hired thugs to cram it down the throats of the Native American people living on the Standing Rock Reservation. America has been kicking its indigenous people in the teeth for so long, what’s one more insult to them? If their water gets poisoned, white America couldn’t care less. In fact, some of them would probably stand up and cheer.

The new solar farm at Standing Rock came about thanks to the efforts of several non-profit organizations, including GivePower and Empowered By Light. Jinko Solar donated 1,000 solar panels to the project and the additional help came from Wallace Global Fund, a private foundation that supports progressive causes — something the white inhabitants of North Dakota care nothing about.

The 300 kilowatt CannonBall Community Solar Farm represents the Sioux Nation Tribe’s long history of advocacy for the sovereignty of their land, renewable energy sources, and environmental justice. It went live in February, and is projected to save the Tribe up to $10,000 a year in utility bills for the Sioux Nation Community Center and Veterans Memorial Building.

The total cost of the project cost was $470,000. $370,000 came from GivePower and Empowered by Light secured a $100,000 grant from the Wallace Global Fund.

“Our mission of indigenizing energy is about merging the cultural values and wisdom passed down to us with new technologies to establish a sustainable platform that not only helps us live better lives today, but also ensures our footprint over the next several centuries is a positive one,” said Cody TwoBears, Standing Rock project leader for GivePower and the founder and executive director of Indigenized Energy. “We’re excited to share this fast-growing solar farm with the world, as it pays tribute to everyone who’s come to Standing Rock and all their hard work and tireless dedication toward protecting our people and land.”

“Sioux Nation has inspired us with their leadership for native rights issues, and the CannonBall Community Solar Farm is a testament to the tribe’s steadfast commitment to going beyond protesting and actually inciting real change,” said Hayes Barnard, President of GivePower. “It’s an honor to unite with other great organizations to serve as allies in Sioux Nation’s ongoing fight to preserve their land with renewable energy projects that generate revenue and support their cultural youth programs.”

U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a leading supporter of Sioux Nation’s commitment to the environment said, “The CannonBall Community Solar Farm is the result of a coalition of Native American leaders, military veterans, environmental groups and sustainability-minded business interests coming together around a common vision of citizenship and stewardship of our precious natural resources.”

Rather than continuing to outsource the building and maintenance of their solar energy, the Sioux Nation Tribe is empowering their people by training them for energy based jobs and ensuring their youth are actively involved and invested in all sustainable energy initiatives.

GivePower is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to extending the environmental and social benefits of clean, renewable energy across the world. GivePower uses solar energy and storage technologies to deliver the most essential community services to the developing world. GivePower has helped power some of the economically poorest countries, including communities across more than a dozen countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

Empowered by Light is a 501(c)3 non-profit focused on improving lives and the environment using renewable energy technologies. It helps empower developing or disadvantaged communities using solar and energy storage solutions. Since 2011, the organization has developed solar projects in seven countries, helping school-age children study better and longer, and powering conservation centers, ranger stations and indigenous communities in ecologically sensitive areas of the world.

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Written By

Steve writes about the interface between technology and sustainability from his home in Florida or anywhere else The Force may lead him. 3000 years ago, Socrates said, "The secret to change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old but on building the new." Perhaps it's time we listened?


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