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Energy Department Announces New Technical Assistance for Tribal Clean Energy Projects

May 20, 2013 - 3:43pm

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WASHINGTON – Building on the Energy Department’s technical assistance awards for Alaska Native communities announced last month, the Department today announced that five additional Tribes will receive technical assistance through the Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START) Program for renewable energy project development and installation. These awards are part of the Department’s broader efforts to help Tribal communities across the United States enhance their energy security and build a sustainable, clean energy future.

“The Energy Department’s START program helps Native American and Alaska Native communities enhance their energy security and create job opportunities in the clean energy economy,” said Tracey A. LeBeau, director of Energy Department’s Office of Indian Energy. “Building upon the achievements and lessons learned from the program’s first round, our new technical assistance awards for clean energy projects will help more tribal communities across the country deploy sustainable energy resources and increase local generation capacity.”

Through the START program, Energy Department and National Laboratory experts work directly with Tribal communities to evaluate project financial and technical feasibility, provide on-going training to community members and help implement a variety of clean energy projects, including energy storage infrastructure, renewable energy deployment and energy efficiency. Since its launch in 2012, the START program has helped eleven Native American and Alaska Native communities cut energy waste and deploy local clean, renewable energy projects.

The following Tribes’ projects were selected for the 2013 START Renewable Energy Project Development program, subject to final scoping and evaluations with tribal community participants:

Chugachmiut Regional Corporation (Port Graham, Alaska): Chugachmiut Regional Corporation is the health and social services provider for seven Tribes in the Chugach region of south central Alaska. The corporation plans to replace a local, community-scale hot water distribution system with a new energy-efficient biomass plant, which will use local wood to generate power for community buildings in the Native Village of Port Graham. Chugachmiut has already completed pre-construction activities to prepare for the project and discussed the benefits and impacts of biomass extraction and forest renewal with the local community. The Energy Department will provide assistance by completing technical reviews of existing feasibility studies and proposals on project design and cost, land use, fuel source agreements and permitting.

Ho-Chunk Nation (Black River Falls, Wisconsin): The Ho-Chunk Nation will receive technical assistance with the development of a one to two megawatt biomass waste-to-energy plant. The plant could potentially use municipal solid waste, agriculture waste or other biomass resources to offset tribal facility energy costs. The Tribe has already approved a land use agreement, completed zoning, and commissioned a feasibility study for the project. The Energy Department will provide assistance with project-related tasks such as analyzing the project plan, reviewing the technology and potential off-take agreements, examining preliminary permitting plans and evaluating financing options.

Pinoleville Pomo Nation (Ukiah, California): Pinoleville Pomo Nation will receive technical assistance to help deploy a planned three megawatt solar utility project to generate an estimated 5,000 megawatt hours of electricity to power the Tribe’s administration buildings and a 24-acre subdivision on tribally-owned land. The Tribe has already completed technical and engineering analyses, estimated monthly energy production and developed a draft Power Purchase Agreement with the local utility. The Energy Department will provide a technical review of the engineering and economic analyses in the feasibility study, explore financing options and assist with presenting the results to the tribal staff and council.

San Carlos Apache Tribe (San Carlos, Arizona): San Carlos Apache Tribe will receive technical assistance to help finance and install a one megawatt community-scale solar photovoltaic array on Tribal land leased to the Tribal casino. A preliminary feasibility study has been completed for the grid-tied project, and the Tribe currently is reviewing potential financing options.  The Energy Department will provide assistance with evaluating long-term ownership options, partnership arrangements and financing structures to help move the project into the implementation phase.

Southern Ute Indian Tribe (Ignacio, Colorado): The Southern Ute Indian Tribe will receive technical assistance with a community-scale solar photovoltaic project that will power tribal facilities and residences. The Tribe has selected single-axis tracking photovoltaics, which have been deployed successfully in similar-sized projects in the Southwest. The Energy Department will provide assistance with project scoping and help assess transmission and interconnection challenges as well as potential markets for energy sales.

Find more information on the Energy Department’s Office of Indian Energy clean energy and energy efficiency technical assistance programs.

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