The Department of Energy (DOE) announced nine tribal clean energy projects to receive more than $7 million. Highlighted during the 2013 White House Tribal Nations Conference, these awards will help American Indian and Alaska Native tribes deploy clean energy projects – saving these communities money, enhancing their energy security and creating new job and business opportunities.
“American Indian and Alaska Native tribes host a wide range of untapped energy resources that can help build a sustainable energy future for their local communities,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said. “Responsible development of these clean energy resources will help cut energy waste and fight the harmful effects of carbon pollution – strengthening energy security of Tribal nations throughout the country.”
According to a recent study by the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), American Indian land comprises two percent of the U.S. land, but contains an estimated five percent of all U.S. 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 main 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-megawatt 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-kilowatt 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.
Since 2002, the DOE’s Tribal Energy Program has invested nearly $42 million in 175 tribal clean energy projects, and in collaboration with the Department’s Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, provides financial and technical assistance to tribes for the evaluation and development of their renewable energy resources, implementation of energy efficiency to reduce energy use, and education and training to help build the knowledge and skills essential for sustainable energy projects.