Energy Department Funds Solar Projects For Tribal Communities


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has announced funding for 24 American Indian and Alaska Native communities to deploy clean energy and energy efficiency projects. The DOE plans to invest over $9 million in 16 facility- and community-scale energy projects in 24 tribal communities, and a majority of the funding is for solar projects.

As part of the Obama administration’s commitment to partner with Tribal Nations, these projects provide Indian Tribes and Alaska Native villages with clean energy solutions that will save communities money and reduce carbon pollution. The DOE’s funding is expected to be leveraged by nearly $16 million in cost sharing under the selected tribal energy projects, meaning the projects represent a potential total investment value exceeding $25 million.

According to a report by the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, while Indian land represents less than 2% of the total U.S. land base, it contains an estimated 5% of all U.S. renewable energy resources.

Some of the solar projects competitively selected to receive funding are below. The costs shown are subject to negotiations and DOE review and approval of cost share reduction requests:

Northern Pueblos Housing Authority on behalf of Picuris Pueblo (Santa Fe, N.M.) – The DOE says that Picuris, the smallest, most isolated and poorest of New Mexico’s 19 Pueblo tribes, will construct a 1 MW solar array to offset 100% of the energy currently being consumed by the 50 homes and 12 tribal buildings on Pueblo trust land. Pueblo currently has a power purchase agreement with the local electrical cooperative and projects to net nearly $6.5 million over the 25-year project period. (Requested DOE $1,000,000, Proposed Cost Share $1,300,000)

Akwesasne Housing Authority (Hogansburg, New York) – The authority will install nearly 615 kW of solar photovoltaic community-scale solar facilities that will provide clean energy to numerous low-income tribal members’ residences and buildings on the St. Regis Mohawk Reservation, creating 11 jobs and saving nearly $500,000 over 30 years. (Requested DOE $1,000,000, Proposed Cost Share $1,219,289)

Hughes Village Council (Hughes, Alaska) – Hughes village, located on the Koyukuk River, 200 miles north of the Yukon River, plans to install a 150 kW solar PV array and lithium battery to reduce diesel use by 20-25% per year for the entire community and helping the tribe and city meet their joint goal of reducing diesel consumption by 50% by 2025. (Requested DOE $610,662, Proposed Cost Share $118,260)

Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians (San Jacinto, Calif.) – The band proposes to install a 1 MW of ground-mounted, fixed-tilt, solar PV system, saving over $6 million in electric bills over 20 years, which can be re-directed to vital community needs. (Requested DOE $500,000, Proposed Cost Share $1,666,130)

The full list of winning clean energy projects is available here.

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