DOE funding Tribal solar projects

The US Department of Energy is awarding $7m for five solar and four other clean energy projects as part of an initiative to help American Indian and Alaska Native tribes prepare for a changing climate.

The project will save those communities money, enhancing their energy security and creating new job and business opportunities.

“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,” says Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. 

According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, American Indian land comprises 2% of US land but contains an estimated 5% of the country’s renewable energy resources.

The solar projects competitively selected to receive funding today include:

*Southern Ute Indian Tribe Growth Fund, Ignacio, Colorado. This project will help install an 800kW solar energy system that could displace almost 40% of carbon-based fuel used in multiple buildings.

*Tonto Apache Tribe, Payson, Arizona. The tribe will install solar arrays on three of its largest energy consuming buildings, helping to meet more than 60% of the structures’ total electricity needs.

*Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. The tribe will install a solar energy system to provide 30% of energy use in the community’s police and fire building. The solar system will also serve as an emergency backup power generator.

*Forest County Potawatomi Community, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The tribe will install solar panels on eight tribal facilities to displace between 25% and 70% of total energy consumption.

*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%.

The other four projects involve installation of a biomass-fueled combined heat and power system, a 1.8MW wind turbine, energy upgrades to refrigeration systems and a biomass-fueled boiler by tribes in Idaho, Minnesota, New York and Wisconsin.