WASHINGTON, D.C. - The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced on August 15 nearly $9 million in funding for 15 tribal energy infrastructure projects. This funding through the DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs will help Native American and Alaska Native communities harness their vast undeveloped energy resources to reduce or stabilize energy costs, as well as increase energy security and resilience.
These energy projects, valued in total at nearly $25 million, are the result of a competitive funding opportunity announcement (FOA) announced February 16, 2018.
“This funding opportunity was the first time the Office of Indian Energy has solicited fuel- and technology-neutral projects, which expands the potential for tribes to utilize the particular resources they have available on their lands,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “These new projects exemplify this Administration’s all-of-the-above energy policy and principles of true tribal sovereignty.”
Through these selected projects, the Office of Indian Energy will continue its efforts to maximize the development and deployment of energy solutions in consultation with American Indians and Alaska Natives. Specifically, the projects will install energy systems on tribal buildings and on a community scale for beneficiary tribes and Alaska Native villages. They will provide systems for autonomous operation, thereby increasing community resilience.
In related news, the Office of Indian Energy also recently released the Tribal Energy Atlas—a first-of-its-kind interactive geospatial application that enables tribes to conduct their own analyses of installed energy projects and resource potential on tribal lands. Developed by researchers from DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory, it’s the most robust tool ever designed to assist tribal energy project planners, technicians, and investors with analyzing energy options in Indian Country.
The projects competitively selected for negotiation of award are as follows:
Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, Inc. (AVEC), Anchorage, AK
AVEC and Stebbins Native Corporation, through a joint venture, will install a 900-kilowatt (kW) turbine to provide wind energy to two remote communities in rural Alaska. This project will serve 328 buildings in Stebbins and St. Michael, AK, and reduce diesel fuel use by approximately 167,500 gallons each year, resulting in savings of approximately $10,117,000 over 20 years.
$6,823,308 (Requested DOE Funds: $1,000,000; Proposed Cost Share: $5,823,308)
Bishop Paiute Tribe, Bishop, CA
Under this project, at least 108 kW of new solar photovoltaics (PV) will be installed on 38 existing owner-occupied, single-family homes for low-income families. This adds to the 118 solar electric systems, totaling over 404 kW of PV, already installed on residences on the Reservation. It is estimated that the additional solar will produce at least 175,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per year, replacing 30%-75% of the 38 homes’ total electricity use of 228,700 kWh per year, for a combined system lifetime electricity cost savings for the low-income homeowners of approximately $1 million.
$539,502 (Requested DOE Funds: $269,751; Proposed Cost Share: $269,751)
Citizen Potawatomi Nation, Shawnee, OK
Under this project, the Citizen Potawatomi Nation will install 4.0 megawatts (MW) of distributed generation powered by natural gas to reduce and stabilize energy costs, expand energy independence, and reduce the amount of coal-fired power currently consumed. The power will serve nine integral community facilities and the Nation’s senior housing complex. This project is expected to generate approximately 6,720,000 kWh per year, which represents approximately 42% of the current total energy load for the facilities served.
$1,998,925 (Requested DOE Funds: $980,705; Proposed Cost Share: $1,018,220)
Coeur d’Alene Tribe, Plummer, ID
The Coeur d’Alene Tribe will install energy efficiency measures (EEMs) and deploy a solar PV system for its senior housing complex. The current energy use for the common area averages 114,000 kWh per year, and the combination of the energy efficiency measures and solar PV deployment is expected to reduce energy use by 99,420 kWh/year—an 87% reduction that is expected to save $7,600 per year.
$186,994 (Requested DOE Funds: $92,500; Proposed Cost Share: $94,494)
Ho-Chunk, Inc., Winnebago, NE
Ho-Chunk, Inc., owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, will install 320 kW of solar PV to serve nine tribal facilities, representing 221,600 square feet, and reduce electric use by approximately 6%. This project will add 320 kW of installed solar capacity to the existing 400 kW, for a total of 720 kW toward the Tribe’s near-term goal of 1 MW.
$728,624 (Requested DOE Funds: $364,312; Proposed Cost Share: $364,312)
Newtok Village Council, Newtok, AK
A heat recovery system will be installed that will transport heat from the generator cooling loops in the Village’s power plant to the community buildings. The project will also implement EEMs in the construction camp washeteria and bunkhouses to reduce overall heat demand and improve heat recovery system performance. Currently, these facilities are expected to use 7,720 gallons of heating fuel and 65,495 kWh per year. It is estimated that after implementation of the heat recovery system the facilities will see a 100% reduction in fuel use and a total cost savings of $109,710.
$1,277,884 (Requested DOE Funds: $638,942**; Proposed Cost Share: $638,942)
Northern Pueblos Housing Authority, Santa Fe, NM
The Picuris Pueblo, in partnership with the Northern Pueblos Housing Authority, is building on the success of their completed 1-MW solar PV system with the development of a second 1-MW solar system in northern New Mexico. The Pueblo of Picuris Community Solar System Phase II project will produce approximately 2.2 million kWh annually, with gross revenue of approximately $3,163,776 over 25 years through a power purchase agreement.
$2,000,000 (Requested DOE Funds: $1,000,000; Proposed Cost Share: $1,000,000)
Penobscot Indian Nation, Indian Island, ME
To further its long-term strategic energy plan, the Penobscot Indian Nation will install EEMs and a rooftop solar PV array during the construction of its new tribal administration building in Maine. The EEMs are estimated to save approximately $46,312 per year, and the 100-kW PV system will generate an estimated savings of $233,807 over a 25-year period.
$490,510 (Requested DOE Funds: $245,255; Proposed Cost Share: $245,255)
Pribilof Islands Aleut Community, St. Paul Island, AK
This project will replace refrigeration equipment and display cases with energy efficient systems; utilize waste heat to provide heat; and lower the cost of energy and maintenance for the Aleut Community Store located on St. Paul lsland, AK. As a result of this project, the community is expected a reduction in building energy and maintenance costs of $44,385 annually. Once these and additional building EEMs are complete, the annual savings will be directed to reducing the cost of groceries, thereby lowering the cost of living for community members.
$1,006,363 (Requested DOE Funds: $491,623; Proposed Cost Share: $514,740)
Rosebud Sioux Tribe Tribal Utilities Commission, Rosebud, SD
Under this project, 250 kW of solar PV will be installed to offset approximately 45% of the electric load of the 30 housing units and one community building that comprise the Sicangu Village. This will save an estimated $38,026 annually and $951,875 over 25 years. As part of the project, tenants will receive energy efficiency education to reduce energy consumption, and local trainees will be recruited to assist in the installation providing a number of jobs.
$897,000 (Requested DOE Funds: $448,500; Proposed Cost Share: $448,500)
San Pasqual Band of Indians, Valley Center, CA
This project will install a hybrid solar-storage-liquid propane microgrid system comprised of 184 kW of PV capacity, 150 kW / 300 kWh of batteries, and 44 kW of standby generation. This microgrid will power essential loads for five separate but adjacent buildings owned and operated by the Tribe. This project is expected to substantially eliminate long-duration disruptions to essential tribal services due to utility outages, and save approximately $45,190 in electric energy costs per year, or $1.13 million over the system’s 25-year useful life. It is also expected to reduce net electric energy imports to the reservation by approximately 278,300 kWh per year by reducing consumption for the five buildings by 96%.
$1,396,636 (Requested DOE Funds: $698,318; Proposed Cost Share: $698,318)
Seminole Tribe of Florida, Hollywood, FL
Under the Seminole Rural Reservation Resiliency Initiative, 563 kW of solar PV and approximately 700 kWh of battery storage, along with transfer switches and control systems, will be installed on the rural Reservations of Brighton and Big Cypress to service eight essential community facilities. The integrated system is intended to provide reliable energy during repeated grid outages and other failures caused by major storms or other events, and to lower energy costs in this high-energy-cost rural area. Specifically, the project is expected to reduce Tribal utility energy costs by approximately $4,908,291 over the 35-year life of the system, save the Tribe several thousands of dollars per year in costs for the existing diesel generators, and create jobs.
$2,027,366 (Requested DOE Funds: $1,000,000; Proposed Cost Share: $1,027,366)
Spirit Lake Tribe, Fort Totten, ND
The Spirit Lake Tribe will install a 1.5-MW wind turbine to provide low-cost electricity to tribal members, displacing approximately 62% of the electricity used by 12 tribal facilities and approximately 350 residential consumers, which will result in annual savings of approximately $500,000.
$4,190,975 (Requested DOE Funds: $1,000,000; Proposed Cost Share: $3,190,975)
Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation, Smith River, CA
This project will install 113.4 kW of solar PV to meet electric power needs at a Tribally owned fish hatchery in northern California. Once the system is installed, 75%- 80% of electrical energy use will be replaced with solar energy, and an equivalent portion of the total $36,000 in annual electricity costs eliminated.
$499,592 (Requested DOE Funds: $249,796; Proposed Cost Share: $249,796)
Unalakleet Native Corporation, Unalakleet, AK
The Unalakleet microgrid is currently powered by a wind-diesel system comprised of four 475-kW diesel gensets and six 100-kW wind turbines. This project will upgrade and increase voltage on the transmission line, and improve the control and data acquisition system and associated data management systems in the power plant. These upgrades will increase wind penetration from 22.9% of total electric production up to 37.4%, which represents a savings of 43,933 gallons of diesel fuel each year (equivalent to an annual savings of $131,799 in fuel) and will reduce annual maintenance costs by approximately $33,800.
$716,504 (Requested DOE Funds: $356,354; Proposed Cost Share: $360,150)
Award amounts shown are subject to negotiation. The amount of requested DOE funds exceed the maximum specified in the FOA and will be reduced during negotiations to comply with FOA requirements.
To learn about DOE's recent investments in tribal communities, visit the Office of Indian Energy's project successes page.