Moving to extend its renewable energy push to Indian reservations, the Obama administration announced it will pump $6.3 million into 31 energy projects on Native lands. Energy Secretary Steven Chu expressed hope that the money, targeted mostly at energy efficiency, would reduce waste, save money and ultimately spur economic development in hard-pressed tribal communities.
The funding for these projects became available in January, and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) plans to announce funding for another group of projects later this summer. All of the grants were issued by the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) as part of their Tribal Energy Program.
The money for the 31 projects will be broken down into three facets: feasibility studies; first-steps planning; and installation. Nine projects will receive $2.17 million for energy assessments and identification of where improvements can be made. After the assessments, the leaders of the projects can develop plans for energy efficiency. Seventeen projects will receive $2.14 million for first-steps planning, which includes analysis of energy options, workforce development – including training and certification for Native Americans – and evaluations of energy resources. Several projects are in place to support energy organizations on tribal lands with the goal of setting and maintaining long-term energy goals, DOE said.
Finally, five projects will receive $2 million for installation of energy efficient upgrades. These upgrades will allow the people living on tribal lands to reduce energy costs, particularly heating and cooling costs, by at least 30 percent. A PDF detailing all 31 projects is available here.
“Tribal Nations are well-positioned to take advantage of the benefits of clean energy and energy efficient technologies,” Secretary Chu said. “Projects such as these will save energy and money, create long-term clean energy jobs, and spur economic development in tribal communities nationwide.”