WASHINGTON, D.C. — In support of President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today announced $38 million in funding for 13 projects aimed at advancing clean energy technology deployment in American Indian and Alaska Native communities. This funding will bolster ongoing efforts to reduce and stabilize energy costs, increase energy security and resilience, and provide electric power to Native communities. These investments bring our nation closer to the Biden-Harris Administration’s goal to enhance Tribal energy sovereignty, while achieving an equitable clean energy future.
“American Indian and Alaska Native communities are disproportionally affected by climate change, facing high and ever-increasing energy costs and unreliable or nonexistent energy sources,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm. “The projects selected today will help Tribes build resiliency and stabilize energy costs, while contributing to the Biden-Harris Administration’s broader goal of a net-zero economy by 2050.”
Many American Indian and Alaska Native communities face disproportionately high energy costs, frequent outages, or lack access entirely. These investments will provide local sustainable solutions, reducing costs and reliance of fossil fuels. Specifically, these cost-shared projects, valued at nearly $55 million, are estimated to result in more than 9.6 megawatts of new clean energy generation and over 2,600 megawatt-hours of battery storage, affect over 1,300 Tribal buildings, and save Tribal communities more than $125 million over the life of the systems. This investment will yield tangible benefits year after year to improve the quality of life for underserved communities.
The 13 projects competitively selected for negotiation of award are as follows:
- Alaska Village Electric Cooperative, Inc. (Anchorage, AK): The project will build a community-scale energy generating system with wind turbines on Tribal Lands in Goodnews Bay, Alaska. It will convert the microgrid power system to a three-phase system and add two 100-kilowatt (kW) wind turbines and a 289-kWh lithium-ion battery. The project is expected to result in $3.8 million in total savings from reduced diesel fuel use over 20 years. (Requested DOE Funds: $4,989,363)
- Barona Group of Capitan Grande Band of Mission Indians (Lakeside, CA): The project will deploy an integrated renewable energy and storage system (1,500-kWdc of solar photovoltaic (PV) and 500-kW of lithium-ion battery storage) to maintain essential services at three facilities. The project’s new solar PV capacity and battery storage are expected to save the Tribe an estimated $607,000 in its first year and approximately $22.5 million over the 30-year project lifetime. (Requested DOE Funds: $5,000,000)
Chitina Electric, Inc. (Chitina, AK): This project will replace the utility’s diesel generators with a 250-kW hydroelectric system, which will meet community energy needs year-round while reducing diesel fuel consumption by over 90% and providing excess electricity for heat. Based on anticipated diesel prices over the next 50 years, the utility and community is expected to save about $8.15 million in reduced fuel costs that will result in lower electricity prices of approximately 10%. (Requested DOE Funds: $2,212,131)
- Cocopah Indian Tribe (Somerton, AZ): The project will install a 2.4-megawatt direct current (MWdc) solar PV generation facility and a single primary power meter to reduce the combined annual operating costs of the Cocopah-owned businesses by more than $332,000 in the first year and more than $14 million over 30 years. This project is expected to offset as much as 90% of the electricity needs of the businesses. (Requested DOE Funds: $5,000,000)
- Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa (Cloquet, MN): The project will install a biomass heating facility to provide district wood heat in place of propane for the Brookston housing subdivision and community center. The project is expected to result in annual savings in fuel and extended propane boiler life of approximately $56,000 and more than $3 million over the life of the system. (Requested DOE Funds: $1,440,000)
- Forest County Potawatomi Community (Crandon, WI): This project will install nine energy efficiency measures focused on the heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system at the Milwaukee Potawatomi Hotel and Casino, which consumes more than 50% of all energy used by the Tribe. The project is expected to save 959,040 kWh and 263,000 therms in the first year of operations and save an estimated $4.5 million over the next 25 years. (Requested DOE Funds: $1,605,475)
- Metlakatla Indian Community (Metlakatla, AK): The community and its utility, Metlakatla Power and Light, will install a 1.5-MW direct drive wind turbine on Annette Islands Reserve, producing approximately 4.15 million kWh of electricity per year. Energy from this installation will replace diesel generation currently used to provide energy to 245 Tribal facilities and approximately 707 residential consumers, for an estimated savings of $910,000 annually. Excess generation will be sold, potentially creating an additional $85,000 of annual revenue. (Requested DOE Funds: $4,519,359)
- Minnesota Chippewa Tribe – White Earth Band of Chippewa Indians (Ogema, MN): The project will install 1.087-MWdc solar PV the community of Mahnomen. The two community scale systems are estimated to produce 1,961 MWh per year and meet approximately 30%–32% of current demand, create 12 jobs over a projected 6 months installation period, and another two jobs for ongoing maintenance and operation over the lifetime of the project. In aggregate, this project is expected to save $131,000 in energy costs annually, and $9.36 million over its useful life. (Requested DOE Funds: $2,360,566)
- Muscogee (Creek) Nation (Okmulgee, OK): The Tribal Utility Authority will install a 924-kW ground-mounted solar PV system to serve the Okemah Community Hospital and Okemah Indian Health Center. The estimated output of the completed system is 1,479,529 kWh per year, yielding anticipated savings of approximately $100,000 per year and more than $2.5 million over the life of the system. (Requested DOE Funds: $2,000,000)
- Northwest Arctic Borough (Kotzebue, AK): The project will integrate234-kW of solar PV and 384-kWh of battery storage into the existing diesel system to serve the entire community of Ambler, Alaska. It is estimated that the integrated system will result in 828 hours of “diesels-off” operation each year, reducing fuel consumption by more than 20,680 gallons and saving the community more than $176,000 annually and $4.4 million over the 25-year project life. (Requested DOE Funds: $2,700,000)
- Oneida Indian Nation (Oneida, NY): The project will increase the energy efficiency of multiple buildings through 19 measures, including the installation of air handler fans and water pumping systems, upgraded lighting, occupancy sensors, and weatherized windows. These measures are projected to reduce the need for electrical energy by nearly 3 million kWh and the demand for natural gas by 34,850 therms annually, saving the Nation $261,000 per year, with a total savings of $3.9 million over the life of the upgrades. (Requested DOE Funds: $1,097,112)
- Penobscot Indian Nation (Indian Island, ME): The project will install a 1.3 MWdc of grid-tied solar PV system that will provide the vast majority of power to all Tribal administration facilities on Indian Island and result in an estimated annual savings of $324,000 and lifetime savings of $10.7 millon. (Requested DOE Funds: $4,495,933)
- Sac and Fox Tribe of the Mississippi in Iowa (Tama, IA): The project will install 135-kW of solar PV on the Meskwaki Tribal Center and the Meskwaki Apprenticeship Program Facility and establish a Tribal Solar Energy Apprenticeship Program. The solar energy generated is expected to offset bout 97% of each facilities’ electricity use, resulting in savings of approximately $11,000 in its first year and $8.3 million over the 30-year life of the systems. (Requested DOE Funds: $455,992)
These cost-shared clean energy projects are the result of a competitive funding opportunity announcement (FOA) released February 2, 2023. Through these selected projects, the Office of Indian Energy continues its efforts to strengthen Tribal energy and economic infrastructure, resource development, and electrification on Tribal lands.
Between 2010 and 2022, the DOE Office of Indian Energy invested over $120 million in more than 210 Tribal energy projects implemented across the contiguous 48 states and Alaska. These projects, valued at more than $215 million, are leveraged by over $93 million in recipient cost share. See the DOE Office of Indian Energy website for a map and summaries of these competitively funded projects.