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DOE Pumps $7M Into Tribal Energy Projects


The Energy Department announced nine tribal clean energy projects to receive more than $7 million.

According to a recent study by the Energy Department’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, American Indian land comprises two percent of the US land, but contains an estimated five percent of all US renewable energy resources.

The projects competitively selected to receive funding today include:

  • Coeur d’Alene Tribe (Plummer, Idaho) – The tribe will implement energy upgrades to refrigeration systems at its Benewah Market, helping to reduce energy consumption by about 30 percent.
  • Gwichyaa Zhee Gwich’in Tribal Government (Fort Yukon, Alaska) – The project will complete an energy efficiency retrofit to the tribe’s
    ain office building, including building shell upgrades as well as the installation of efficient lighting and a solar electric system. These efforts could help reduce fuel oil use by nearly 50 percent, representing about 2,300 gallons per year.
  • Forest County Potawatomi Community (Milwaukee, Wis.) – The tribe will install solar panels on eight tribal facilities – displacing between 25 to 70 percent of the total energy used by each of the buildings.
  • Menominee Tribal Enterprises (Neopit, Wis.) – Through this project, the tribe will install a biomass-fueled combined heat and power system to power the tribe’s sawmill and lumber drying operation. The project will help cut fuel oil use by over 80 percent annually.
  • Seneca Nation of Indians (Irving, N.Y.) – The tribe will install a 1.8 MW wind turbine near Lake Erie. The wind turbine is expected to generate about 50 percent of the electricity used on the entire reservation.
  • Southern Ute Indian Tribe Growth Fund (Ignacio, Colo.) – This project will help install an 800 kW solar energy system to provide energy to multiple Southern Ute buildings. This solar system could help displace nearly 40 percent of the total fuel used in these buildings.
  • Tonto Apache Tribe (Payson, Ariz.) – The tribe will install solar arrays on three of the tribe’s largest energy consuming buildings — helping to meet more than 60 percent of the buildings’ total electricity needs.
  • White Earth Reservation Tribal Council (White Earth, Minn.) – The project will install a woody biomass-fueled boiler to heat a tribal facility – replacing over 60 percent of the fuel oil and propane currently used to heat the facility.
  • Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska (Winnebago, Neb.) – The tribe will install a solar energy system to help power the Winnebago police and fire building, providing about 30 percent of the building’s energy use. The solar system will also serve as an emergency backup power generator.

In May, the Energy Department announced it was providing technical expertise to the Alaskan Native villages of Kongiganak, Koyukuk, Minto and Shishmaref and the Yakutat T’lingit Tribe to strengthen wind power infrastructure, develop smart grids, identify opportunities for biomass and solar energy, and improve energy efficiency, among other measures.

The awards were made under the Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team program, which it runs in partnership the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and federal agency the Denali Commission. he program aims to provide tribal communities across the US with technical expertise on clean energy and efficiency technologies, infrastructure development and community capacity building.

Since 2002, the Energy Department’s Tribal Energy Program has invested nearly $42 million in 175 tribal clean energy projects.

Photo: Solar panel with mountains and setting sun, green economy via Shutterstock

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