Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs
The DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, or Office of Indian Energy, is charged by Congress to direct, foster, coordinate, and implement energy planning, education, management, and programs that assist Tribes with energy development, capacity building, energy infrastructure, energy costs, and electrification of Indian lands and homes. Currently led by Acting Director Pilar Thomas, the Office of Indian Energy works within DOE, across government agencies, and with Indian Tribes and organizations to promote Indian energy policies and initiatives. The Office of Indian Energy performs these functions within the scope of DOE's mission and consistently with the federal government's trust responsibility, tribal self-determination policy, and government-to-government relationship with Indian Tribes.
Summary of Office of Indian Energy Statutory Authorizations
The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Public Law 109-58, Title V) authorized DOE to establish the Office of Indian Energy, which is directed and authorized to implement a variety of programmatic activities, including provisions that the Office of Indian Energy Director duties shall:
- Provide, direct, foster, coordinate, and implement energy planning, education, management, conservation, and delivery programs of the Department that:
- Promote Indian tribal energy development, efficiency, and use.
- Reduce or stabilize energy costs.
- Enhance and strengthen Indian tribal energy and economic infrastructure relating to natural resource development and electrification.
- Bring electrical power and service to Indian land and the homes of tribal members located on Indian lands or acquired, constructed, or improved (in whole or in part) with Federal funds. Section 217(b)
- Establish programs to assist consenting Indian Tribes in meeting energy education, research and development, planning, and management needs. Section 2602(b)(1)
- Develop a program to support and implement research projects that provide Indian Tribes with opportunities to participate in carbon sequestration practices on Indian land. Section 2602(b)(3)(A)
- Encourage cooperative arrangements between Indian Tribes and utilities that provide service to Indian Tribes, as the Director determines to be appropriate Section 2602(b)(4)(C).
The Director is authorized to be appropriated to carry out this subsection $20,000,000 for each of fiscal years 2006 through 2016. Section 2602(b)(6).
A related DOE Tribal Loan Guarantee Program is authorized $2 billion and the Secretary of Energy is mandated to establish associated loan guarantee regulations. Section 2602(c)
The Office of Indian Energy Director is also authorized to and may provide grants, including formula grants or grants on a competitive basis to eligible tribal entities, which has to date been implemented by DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy’s Tribal Energy Program. These grants by the Director may be made for use in carrying out:
- Energy, energy efficiency, and energy conservation programs;
- Studies and other activities supporting tribal acquisitions of energy supplies, services, and facilities, including the creation of tribal utilities to assist in securing electricity to promote electrification of homes and businesses on Indian land;
- Planning, construction, development, operation, maintenance, and improvement of tribal electrical generation, transmission, and distribution facilities located on Indian land; and
- Development, construction, and interconnection of electric power transmission facilities located on Indian land with other electric transmission facilities. Sections 2602(b)(2)(A)-(D)