By Jenna Kunze
The U.S. Department of Energy today awarded nearly $9 million in funding to 13 Native American communities for projects that will increase alternative energy, reduce energy costs, and increase energy security on tribal lands.
Tribes from Alaska, California, Idaho, Washington, New Mexico, Minnesota and Arizona were selected for the competitive grants.
The projects will provide communities with clean electricity, power residential buildings that lack electricity, install micro-grids and increase workforce training opportunities, according to the Department’s press release.
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The largest grants were awarded to the Navajo Nation in Arizona for a pre-negotiated amount of $2.8 million and to the Karuk Tribe in Northern California at roughly the same amount, each with half of the amount granted corresponding to the cost sharing by the tribe.
The Navajo Nation will use its funds to install a microgrid to provide power and internet to one of its communities currently without power. The Karuk tribe will use the money to install a ground-mounted solar panel to power the tribe’s casino and administrative trailers, and another rooftop solar panel to power the tribe’s wellness center. Cumulatively, the solar panel systems are expected to save the tribe more than $9.8 million.
The Karuk Tribe has secured a second grant from the Department of Energy to install storage batteries at 39 elder homes to supply power to critical infrastructure during grid outages.
Another innovative winner, a West Alaska tribal corporation, Kawerak, Inc., received funding to power 18 tribal buildings by harnessing energy from a local hot spring. “The project aims to achieve the long-term goals of eliminating reliance on fossil fuels at the site, providing geothermal heat for local food production and enabling economic development of this historic site located 60 miles north of Nome, Alaska,” according to the Department of Energy.
Click here to learn more about each selected project.
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