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Energy Department Expands Support of Alaska Native Clean Energy

December 3, 2014 - 2:30pm


Energy Department Expands Support of Alaska Native Clean Energy

At White House Tribal Nations Conference, DOE also Recognizes Two Tribes as Climate Action Champions and Launches New Online Tool to Support Tribal Energy Development

WASHINGTON – As part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to help tribal communities across the country enhance their energy security, build a sustainable energy future, and combat climate change, the Department of Energy today announced the third round of the Alaska Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START) Program, a competitive technical assistance program that assists Alaska Native corporations and federally recognized Alaska Native governments with accelerating clean energy projects.

“The technical assistance opportunities announced today signal our ongoing commitment to providing Alaska Native communities with the tools and on-the-ground resources they need to foster energy self-sufficiency, sustainability, and economic competitiveness,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “We will continue to work side-by-side with tribal leaders to support efforts to advance clean energy solutions and identify climate action adaptation and resiliency strategies to help Alaska Native communities prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change on their land, economy, and natural resources.”

Since its launch in December 2011, the START Program has helped 11 Alaska Native communities to advance their clean energy technology and infrastructure projects — from solar and wind to biofuels and energy efficiency. This third round of technical assistance awards will further help Alaska Native villages increase their resiliency, build local generation capacity, enhance energy efficiency measures, and create local entrepreneurial and job opportunities.

The announcement came at the White House Tribal Nations Conference, where leaders of 566 federally recognized tribes are meeting directly with President Obama and members of the Cabinet.

At the conference, Secretary Moniz announced that two tribes are among the 16 communities from across the country that have been selected by the Administration in the first round of the Climate Action Champions Competition, which recognizes and supports the steps that local and tribal governments are taking to reduce carbon pollution and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

The two tribes selected are the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe from California, which has reduced energy consumption by 35 percent and has committed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2018, and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Michigan, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 4 percent per year.

In addition, the White House Council of Native American Affairs Energy Subgroup, co-chaired by Secretary Moniz, launched a new Web page that provides a centralized repository of federal funding and technical assistance programs that can support energy project development for tribes and Alaska Native villages and corporations.

Hosted by the Department’s Office of Indian Energy, the Web-based resource is an efficient one-stop shop that enables tribes to easily identify and access information about federal grant, loan, and technical assistance programs. 

The Alaska (START) Program has proven to be successful in helping Alaska Native communities accelerate clean energy projects.  The Department of Energy, in partnership with the Denali Commission, along with the Department’s National Laboratories and other local and national experts, will assist rural Alaska Native communities in developing strategic energy plans to help mitigate climate change, conduct energy awareness and training programs, and pursue new renewable energy and energy efficiency opportunities.

“Alaska Native communities are dealing with the impacts of climate change, such as coastal and river flooding and erosion, in real time,” said Joel Neimeyer of the Denali Commission. “These challenges are compounded by the tripling of fuel and electrical costs rural Alaska has experienced in the past decade. “The START Program has strengthened our ability to respond to the critical infrastructure needs of these communities. We look forward to continuing to partner with the DOE Office of Indian Energy to support Alaska Native villages and corporations in implementing innovative, sustainable solutions to the urgent energy, economic and environmental challenges they face.”

Alaska Native village and village corporations interested in applying for this technical assistance opportunity will be selected based on their ability to: demonstrate achievable energy or cost savings, implement renewable energy or energy efficiency project(s), develop an energy roadmap and establish an energy goal, ensure commitment from community leadership, participate in Energy Department- or other agency-sponsored technical assistance, trainings, or workshops, and identify a local climate action energy champion.

To apply for the Alaska START Program, or for more information please visit the Energy Department’s Office of Indian Energy website. Applications are due by Friday, Feb. 6, 2015.

Find more information on the Energy Department’s broader efforts to support energy efficiency projects and energy development on tribal lands at