Since 2008, the Grand Canyon Trust’s (GCT) Renewable Energy Investment Fund (REIF) has paid or committed nearly $700,000 to fund community-based renewable energy projects for Native American tribes. Grand Canyon Trust has recently issued a request for proposals (PDF) for an additional $1 million to install renewable energy systems in the Hopi, Navajo, Hualanai and Yavapai-Apache reservations in Arizona. The funding will support renewable energy systems installed on buildings owned by tribal nonprofit organizations or on tribal land.
In the past, funded projects have included off-grid solar energy systems for remote villages, solar water-heating systems and a small wind turbine at the St. Michael Indian School near Window Rock, capital of the Navajo Nation. Grand Canyon Trust also administers the Arizona Sustainable Growth Fund, which will match 75 percent of the cost of individual PV systems for Hopi and Navajo families.
According to the Arizona Republic, the funding is available through a $5 million settlement between the Grand Canyon Trust and the Salt River Project (SRP), the public utility that serves the Phoenix area. SRP paid $5 million to help offset the environmental impacts of expanding the Springerville coal-fired generation facility in 2009.
As the third-largest public power utility in the country, SRP serves about 945,000 electric customers. The utility is not regulated by the Arizona Corporation Commission, and therefore not subject to the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which requires utilities to source 15 percent of their electricity from renewable resources by 2025. However, the SRP board of directors voluntarily committed to meeting 20 percent of its retail load through renewable energy and conservation resources by 2020. SRP has agreed to purchase the entire output of the recently commissioned 20-megawatt (MW) Copper Crossing Solar Ranch, one of the largest solar power plants in the state.