Tribal Clean Energy Projects Get DOE Support

The Boquillas Wind Project in Arizona, which will be majority-owned by the Navajo Nation, is a promising model for Native American tribes interested in deploying renewable energy projects. A new program, recently announced by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will make it easier for Tribes to access technical assistance for projects like Boquillas.

The Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START) provides federally recognized Native American and Alaska Native governments with technical assistance to accelerate the deployment of clean energy projects. The program is part of the Obama administration’s larger commitment to help tribes foster job creation and economic growth, while increasing self-sufficiency and environmental sustainability. It complements previous funding to help tribes improve energy education and literacy on reservations.

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image via DOE

Through START, community-based project teams will gain access to technical assistance from DOE and experts from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), to help them evaluate the financial and technical feasibility of clean energy projects, including renewable energy generation resources, energy efficiency and conservation measures. The Alaska START Program will also leverage the technical expertise of the Denali Commission, an independent federal agency designed to provide critical utilities, infrastructure, and economic support to communities throughout Alaska, with the goal of reducing the cost of electricity in Alaska Native communities.

The program is being administered by the DOE’s Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs. More information about START can be found on the DOE Office of Indian Energy website. Applications are due by January 15, 2012.

“By leveraging our technical resources and expertise we will help Tribal communities, entrepreneurs and small businesses create jobs, reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and build a sustainable energy future,” Secretary Chu said in a statement. “Working together, we can strengthen the energy security and economic competitiveness of Tribal homes and businesses.”

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).