DOE Awards $12 Million to Tribal Communities to Maximize Deployment of Energy Technology

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced today $12 million in funding to 13 American Indian and Alaska Native communities across the nation for projects that will reduce energy costs and increase energy security and resiliency. The selected projects will power their homes and communities, make their buildings more energy efficient, and install microgrids for essential services and resiliency – critical elements to reaching the Biden Administration’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

“The Department of Energy is committed to working with American Indian and Alaska Native communities to strengthen energy infrastructure on Tribal lands,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “These selections, the first from the Office of Indian Energy this year, underscore the Biden Administration’s commitment to ensuring that communities disproportionately affected by climate change directly benefit from clean energy investments.”

Since 2010, DOE’s Office of Indian Energy has invested over $100 million in more than 190 tribal energy projects across the contiguous 48 states and Alaska, valued at over $180 million . Through these grants, the Office of Indian Energy continues its efforts, in partnership with Native communities, to maximize the deployment of clean energy solutions for the benefit of American Indians and Alaska Natives.

Collectively, the selected projects are estimated to result in nearly 3.5 megawatts of clean energy generation and over 3.5 megawatt-hours of battery storage, serving over 1,300 tribal buildings and saving those communities a combined $1.8 million annually. The awardees are:

  • The Akiachak Native Community (Akiachak, AK) will receive $123,220 install energy-efficient retrofits, including furnaces in the laundry building, as well as an LED lighting upgrade and installation of setback thermostats, in five essential multi-use buildings in the Akiachak Village.
  • The Kipnuk Light Plant, a tribally owned utility of the Native Village of Kipnuk (Kipnuk, AK), will receive $855,978 to purchase, install, and integrate a battery energy storage system into its standalone community wind diesel grid which will displace over 34,000 gallons of diesel fuel.
  • The Metlakatla Indian Community (Annette Island Reserve, AK) will receive  $1,031,110  to complete the electrical intertie between its islanded community and the mainland community of Ketchikan, Alaska.
  • The Native Village of Diomede (Diomede, AK) will receive $222,848 to install energy efficiency measures in the new store in the Village, Alaska’s most remote community situated on an island in the Bering Straits.
  • The Native Village of Noatak and the Northwest Arctic Borough (Kotzebue, AK) will receive $1,997,265 to deploy a high-penetration solar PV and battery energy storage hybrid system to integrate with the Village’s diesel electric grid, estimated to save the community more than $178,000 each year.
  • The Village of Aniak (Aniak, AK) will receive $167,948 to install energy retrofits on four essential multi-use buildings and the Village’s Community Center.
  • The Village of Chefornak (Chefornak, AK), will receive $854,964 and in cooperation with its community utility Naterkag Light Plant purchase, install, and integrate a battery storage system into its standalone community wind diesel grid.
  • Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians (Geyserville, CA) will receive $556,984 to install of solar photovoltaics (PV) on 25 homes and a community building, as well as train 4 to 6 tribal members to install and maintain these systems.
  • The Pala Band of Mission Indians (Pala, CA) will receive $3,000,000 to install solar PV systems and battery storage to provide autonomous operations of multiple essential tribal facilities during emergency situations, providing energy resilience.
  • The San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians (Valley Center, CA) will receive $400,566 to install a tribal co-tenant community-scale solar PV system that will serve 80 households and one Tribal Government building.
  • The Seminole Tribe of Florida (Hollywood, FL) will receive $2,158,593 to install solar PV and battery storage on its rural Reservation of Brighton to power four essential facilities.
  • The Quinault Indian Nation (Taholah, WA) will receive $201,044 to install solar PV and battery storage for critical loads in their new 30,000 square foot community facility.
  • The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe (Towaoc, CO), through its Towaoc Housing Solar Initiative, will receive $427,997 to install solar PV systems on 20 homes and a supportive housing facility in the community.

“Too often, Tribes in our state have been without critical support needed to withstand crises like natural disasters or power outages. It’s good to see the Quinault Indian Nation receive important funds to support ongoing resiliency measures against emergencies that could put families at risk. As a partner and voice for all Washington state Tribes in the Senate, I’m going to keep fighting to ensure our state’s Tribes get the resources they need to build energy security and more resilient communities in the face of climate change,” said U.S. Senator Patty Murray.

“DOE’s partnership with Ute Mountain Ute and other tribal communities is vital to bolster energy resilience, reduce emissions, and address the climate crisis. This funding is critical for Ute Mountain Ute Tribe’s clean energy development and prosperity and will reduce their energy costs over time,” said U.S. Senator Michael Bennet.

“We know that Tribal energy projects not only benefit our environment, but they also help improve community resiliency and foster economic development in Indian Country. That is why I’m glad to see this Department of Energy grant award going to three tribes in California. This funding will assist tribes in maximizing their clean energy potential while building Tribal capacity and creating jobs, combatting the climate crisis, and saving Tribal communities money on their energy bills. As we move forward with discussions about improving our infrastructure and building a clean energy economy for all, I’ll continue working in the Senate to make sure Tribal communities across California are not left behind,” said U.S. Senator Alex Padilla. 

“I am very pleased to see these investments in our Alaska Native communities by the Department of Energy. Alaska is unique; our often unforgiving terrain and environment present many challenges for our remote villages. Energy is a critical need, and serves as the basis for economic opportunity and prosperity. Our Native communities should be entrusted to develop their own lands and resources. This funding will go a long way toward increasing energy efficiency, harnessing natural resources, reducing long-term energy costs, and improving air quality. I sincerely congratulate Alaska’s grant recipients and look forward to seeing how the implementation of this funding will move their communities forward,” said U.S. Representative Don Young.

“Tapping underused energy resources and stabilizing energy costs, while also confronting climate change, are exactly what our South Florida communities need. I’m proud that the Seminole Tribe will be on the leading-edge of this vital solar mission in the Sunshine State,” said U.S. Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

“Climate change has shown us over and over that our infrastructure is no longer up to the task of providing power to many communities. With extreme heat, raging wildfires, and an increasing strain on our energy grid, it’s time we reimagine what our infrastructure looks like so it can meet the needs of the 21st Century. This project will make sure the Dry Creek Rancheria Tribe has the power they need in a cleaner, safer, and more cost effective way, and it will serve as a new playbook for communities all around the U.S. to follow,” said U.S. Representative Jared Huffman.

READ more about these projects. To learn about DOE’s recent investments in tribal communities, visit the Office of Indian Energy’s project successes page.

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