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Tackling Energy Problems For America's Tribal Nations

June 20, 2012 - 6:07pm

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Julia Bovey, First Wind; Tracey LeBeau; Neil Kiely, First Wind; and Bob Springer (NREL) at First Wind's new Rollins project near Lincoln, Maine.

Julia Bovey, First Wind; Tracey LeBeau; Neil Kiely, First Wind; and Bob Springer (NREL) at First Wind's new Rollins project near Lincoln, Maine.

At the Tribal Nations Conference last December, President Obama noted that the Administration is “working to make our government-to-government relationship even stronger.” More importantly, while recognizing the progress we’ve made together, he stressed that these achievements “should sharpen our resolve to do even more.”

To that end, my office has continued to build on our commitments to bring together Native American and Alaska Native Tribes from across the country to help tackle the biggest energy challenges facing their communities. 

Over the past year, one such commitment has been the establishment of the Energy Department's Indian Country Energy & Infrastructure Working Group (ICEIWG). The ICEIWG is a convening of tribal energy leaders from across the Nation to discuss the most pressing issues facing tribal energy development. ICEIWG members also act as a key player in interacting with other energy sector players such as utility operators, plant owners, private energy developers and public sector officials to share best practices and discuss emerging markets and opportunities for innovative public-private partnerships.

Today, I am pleased to announce the addition of three Tribes to the working group: Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, Crow Tribe of Montana and Tlingit and Haida Tribes of Alaska. In total, the ICEIWG is now comprised of representatives from eight Tribes working to leverage their energy expertise and experiences to solve these shared challenges. This exciting news builds on today's announcements to provide tribal communities with technical assistance to accelerate clean energy project development, advance energy self-sufficiency and create jobs through the Energy Department’s Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START) Program.

Through the START initiative, the Office of Indian Energy is working to provide tribal communities who applied for and were selected to receive technical assistance and access to reliable tools and resources needed to advance clean, renewable energy deployment in Indian Country. Respectful of the unique energy challenges facing our nation’s Tribes, this program strives to help reduce the cost and price of energy, while increasing financing and ownership opportunities for tribal communities and businesses.

In Alaska, we’ve partnered with the Denali Commission to provide technical assistance to five Alaska Native Tribes. In the lower 48 states, we’re working with DOE national laboratories and six Tribes from Arizona, California, Maine, New Mexico, and Wisconsin to help deploy energy storage infrastructure and renewable energy projects and make tribal facilities more energy efficient.  

Be sure to check out our efforts on our Indian Energy website.

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