WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recently announced nearly $9 million in funding to 13 American Indian and Alaska Native communities for 14 projects that will harness their vast undeveloped solar, hydro and geothermal energy resources, reduce or stabilize energy costs, and increase energy security and resilience on tribal lands. The projects will provide communities with clean electricity, power residential buildings that lack electricity, install microgrids and increase workforce training opportunities. This funding will help address the needs of small, rural and underserved communities.
“Tribal communities are imbued with knowledge and ingenuity around sustainable energy infrastructure and they are poised to help lead the country as we make an equitable transition to clean,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “With this investment, DOE is continuing its work with American Indian and Alaska Native communities to build stronger, more resilient tribal nations.”
Collectively, the 14 selected projects awarded to 13 American Indian and Alaska Native communities are estimated to result in 3.3 megawatts of new clean energy generation, and over 3.6 megawatt-hours of battery storage, serve over 1,200 tribal buildings and provide a combined $48.5 million in savings over the life of the systems to these communities.
The selected applications are:
- The Coeur d’Alene Tribe – will install solar photovoltaic (PV) on a new youth recreation center. (Award Amount: $68,129)
- Colusa Indian Community Council – will expand existing medium-voltage distribution to seven homes within their new development to supply the new homes with highly reliable power using the tribe’s existing co-generation power plant and microgrid. (Award Amount: $517,200)
- The Karuk Tribe – will install solar PV for their casino and newly constructed wellness center, saving an estimated $9.8 million over the life of the systems. (Award Amount: $1,390,680)
- The Karuk Tribe – will install solar PV and battery storage on 39 elder’s homes to power critical loads during grid outages. (Award Amount: $426,757)
- Kawerak, Inc. – will install an Organic Rankine Cycle system using local geothermal resources at Pilgrim Hot Springs to electrify and heat 18 existing tribal buildings, a water well, a water pump house, and two bathing pools, allowing economic development of this historic site located 60 miles north of Nome, AK. (Award Amount: $1,524,376)
- The La Jolla Band of Luiseno Indians – will install solar PV and battery storage to supply electrical power to the La Jolla Trading Post, the only store and gas station on the La Jolla Indian Reservation, saving over $1.3 million over the life of the system and providing hands-on training for tribal members. (Award Amount: $511,610)
- The Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe – will install solar PV to power nine existing and currently being constructed tribal buildings, saving over $2.5 million over the life of the systems. (Award Amount: $729,049)
- The Lummi Nation – will install solar PV on a new 50,000 sq. ft. facility health and dental facility, saving money and providing training for seven tribal members. (Award Amount: $158,019)
- The Metlakatla Indian Community – will rebuild and install key components of two hydropower turbines and replace an aging battery to increase turbine energy production by 20 percent and reducing use of diesel-powered generators. (Award Amount: $967,258)
- The Muckleshoot Indian Tribe – will install solar PV on three tribal buildings and providing training for tribal members. (Award Amount: $248,448)
- The Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians – will install solar PV on three buildings at the Paskenta Band of Nomlaki Indians Rolling Hills Clinic, reducing electrical costs by 94 percent and saving $36,470 annually. (Award Amount: $203,866)
- The Pueblo of Laguna – will install solar PV on community buildings in three villages and saving 70 percent in electricity costs. (Award Amount: $174,765)
- The Puvurnaq Power Company, a tribally owned village utility, will purchase, install, and integrate a solar PV into an existing wind diesel battery power system in the Village of Kongiganak, allowing the diesel engines to be turned off 56 percent of the year and save over 48,000 gallons of fuel annually. (Award Amount: $674,330)
- The Navajo Nation Tribal Government-Kayenta Chapter – will install solar PV, battery storage, and backup propane generator to provide clean electricity to 24 unpowered homes in the Comb Ridge/El Capitan community in the Kayenta Chapter of the Navajo Nation and creating five full-time temporary positions and three full-time positions for the life of the system. (Award Amount: $1,185,409)
“For far too long, the needs of tribal families have been placed on Congress’ back burner,” said U.S. Representative Tom O’Halleran (AZ-01). “But the federal government has treaty and trust obligations to uphold to tribes. [We must] ensure we hold up our end of the bargain, and work to expand access to broadband, electricity, clean, running water, and more for families across Indian Country.”
Upcoming Tribal Consultation
Secretary Granholm has also invited leadership of federally recognized Indian tribes and Alaska Native corporations to a formal consultation session on March 29, 2022, to help guide the department in developing over 60 new programs and implementing $62.5 billion in funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and to ensuring this historic investment has the greatest possible positive impact for tribal communities.
Supporting Tribal and Native Communities
The DOE Office of Indian Energy statutory charter is to promote tribal energy development, efficiency, and use, reduce or stabilize energy costs, enhance and strengthen tribal energy and economic infrastructure, and bring electrical power and service to Indian lands and homes. The office executes these responsibilities through a three-pronged approach including financial assistance through competitive grants, technical assistance provided at no change to Indian tribes and tribal entities, and education and capacity building.
Since 2010, the DOE Office of Indian Energy has invested over $114 million in more than 200 tribal energy projects across the contiguous 48 states and Alaska, valued at nearly $200 million. Through these grants, DOE’s Office of Indian Energy continues its efforts, in partnership with Native communities, to maximize the deployment of energy solutions for the benefit of American Indians and Alaska Natives.