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Tribal Strategic Energy Planning Provides a Step in the Right Direction

June 14, 2013 - 12:13pm

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Engaging stakeholders and identifying priorities is critical to developing a strong energy vision. Here, the START workshop held at the Passamaquoddy Tribes of Indian Township and Pleasant Point in Maine helped open the lines of communication between two reservations that exist under a single Tribe. Photo from Paul Dearhouse of Dearhouse Consulting Group, NREL 24503

Engaging stakeholders and identifying priorities is critical to developing a strong energy vision. Here, the START workshop held at the Passamaquoddy Tribes of Indian Township and Pleasant Point in Maine helped open the lines of communication between two reservations that exist under a single Tribe. Photo from Paul Dearhouse of Dearhouse Consulting Group, NREL 24503

Any Tribe can have a vision for its community energy future, but to move projects and initiatives forward, it needs a long-term strategy and a clear path to reach its goals. 

The DOE Office of Indian Energy has developed a nine-step strategic energy planning process that gives Tribes a road map to success. 

“Ideas and data are nothing but pictures and words on a page without the action needed to bring them to life,” said DOE Office of Indian Energy Director Tracey LeBeau. “Ultimately it is the people—committed tribal leaders and staffs and determined community energy champions—who make it all happen. DOE’s role is to help sharpen their vision while providing the tools, training, and expertise needed to break down the barriers and provide a path forward.”

A recently published case study on Developing Tribal Energy Projects: Community Energy Planning outlines this process and how it has been put into action by several Tribes as part of the DOE Office of Indian Energy’s 2012 Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START) Program. The strategic energy planning workshops guide tribal leaders along the nine-step process and document a game plan for short- and long-term achievements.

“I was really impressed with the whole [strategic energy planning] process,” said Maria Arvayo, development services director for the Pascua Yaqui Tribe. “It made attendees feel very empowered—like we could really do something.”

“The planning process pulled information directly from our community members as well as our partners and gave them ownership of the end product,” explained Gary Williams, executive director of the Organized Village of Kake. “It has really helped focus our energy initiative to a fine tip. It has been phenomenal for our community.” Read more about how Kake benefited from the strategic energy planning session offered through START.

In addition to the START Program, the DOE Office of Indian Energy works to build capacity in Indian Country by offering renewable energy curriculum, including a strategic energy planning webinar, and an Energy Resource Library that provides case studies and resources on topics such as strategic energy planning and tribal renewable energy project development.

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