Canadian First Nation Company Brings Wind Power To US Tribe

The burst of big-scale renewable energy projects in the past few years has led to occasional conflict between developers and native communities – over a California wind farm and an Arizona solar power tower project, for example. But it’s an entirely different story playing out with TWN Wind Power, and when you see the name of the company fully spelled out, you might begin to see why.

TWN stands for “Tsleil-Waututh Nation.” It’s one of the smallest First Nations in Canada, made up of about 500 people whose historic home is the Burrard Inlet, the waterway in the heart of the Vancouver, B.C., metropolitan area.

native american wind power

image via TWN Wind Power

The Tseleil-Waututh Nation has launched a number of business ventures, among them TWN Wind Power, which just announced the completion of two wind projects at White Earth Nation in northwest Minnesota. Endurance Wind Power turbines – one 35-kilowatt sized, the other 50 kW – on 140-foot towers went in at Ojibwa Building Supplies in Waubun, Minn., and at the White Earth Community Center in Naytahwaush.

“Nation-to-Nation business success in Indian Country is what we are striving for, all the while helping communities achieve their energy goals,” Marc Soulliere, president & CEO of TWN Wind Power, said in a statement. “It has been a wonderful journey and an honor working with White Earth Nation.”

The tribe-to-tribe nature of the development makes it unique, plus, according to TWN Wind Power, while hundreds of Endurance Wind Power turbines have been installed in North America and the United Kingdom, these are the first for a U.S. tribe.

The Obama administration has backed the big projects that have run into some tribal opposition, but it also has pursued a project to help Native Americans interested in bringing renewable energy to their reservations help in doing so.

Last year, the U.S. Department of Energy announced formation of the Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START), which 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 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.

And, just a couple of weeks ago, DOE  Secretary Steven Chu issued a policy statement and guidance that gives preference to Indian tribes when the department’s facilities contract to purchase renewable energy products or by-products, including electricity, fuel sources and renewable energy certificates. According to the DOE, “Under this policy, Energy Department facilities can utilize this purchase preference when a Tribal nation holds a majority ownership position in a renewable energy project and the cost is no more than the prevailing market rate.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • Elaine Phillips

    This is a great story and is beginning to be circulated on Linkedin Groups and other social media. I would love to see more about Native Americans and sustainable economic development.

    • Thank you, Elaine. I’ll be on the lookout. If you see anything, please let me know at pete [@] earthtechling.com