Tribes win federal funding as they enhance energy security and pursue microgrids

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Tribal communities across the United States are looking to enhance their energy security and resilience through microgrids. In California, for example, the Blue Lake Rancheria‘s tribal council began developing its microgrid in 2011 in an effort to support its community during extreme emergencies. The resilience provided by that tribal microgrid has been critical to the community and surrounding area, providing power during recent utility public safety power shutoffs.

tribal microgrid

Blue Lake Rancheria in Humboldt County, California, was a 2019 winner of a Greater Good Award. Photo courtesy of Siemens

Other indigenous communities have followed suit in developing microgrids and other resilient sources of electricity.

Now the energy security efforts of 13 American Indian and Native Alaskan communities are getting a boost with $9 million in funding from the Department of Energy (DOE) for 14 projects that will use solar and battery storage, hydro and geothermal resources, and other clean energy sources.

Among the projects selected by the DOE is an expansion of an existing co-generation power plant and tribal microgrid owned by the Colusa Indian Community Council in Colusa, California. The half-million dollar expansion will distribute highly reliable medium-voltage electricity to seven new homes in the community.

US Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm said of the funding, “With this investment, DOE is continuing its work with American Indian and Alaska Native communities to build stronger, more resilient tribal nations.”

In total, the 14 projects are expected to generate 3.3 MW of new clean energy and more than 3.6 MWh of battery storage, while delivering over $48.5 million in lifetime savings for the tribal communities.

Granholm has also invited tribal leaders to participate in a session focused on developing plans for $62.5 billion in funding provided by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The session, to be held March 29, is designed to ensure that “this historic investment has the greatest possible positive impact for Tribal communities,” according to a statement from the DOE.

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  1. Hi,
    In the last paragraph it should be “$62.5 BILLION in funding provided by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act,” not million.