DOE Energy Funding Zeroes in on Tribal Lands
The DOE is looking to move solar energy to new targets. Photo Credit: Jurvetson
The Department of Energy announced $13.6 million in new funding to help tribal communities and rural Alaskan villages improve energy independence and efficiency. The multi-year funding will be dispersed among 36 tribes and villages and will go toward weatherization training, feasibility studies, and development and deployment of renewable energy on tribal lands.
The DOE funding will be matched by as much as $27 million in public and private funding, bringing the programs projected total rewards to $41 million. Eight projects will focus on weatherization training, 17 on studying the feasibility of renewable energy deployment and 11 for funding new renewable energy and efficiency measures.
Not surprisingly, the program, in operation since 2002, is run through the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). Since 2002, over $16 million has been allocated for 93 tribal energy projects. This latest round of funding (omitting potential matching funds) will nearly double that allocated to date.
The partial focus on Alaskan villages is a result of their remote locations. There, the cost of fuel for heating and transportation is exorbitantly high. Some semblance of energy independence should prove incredibly beneficial for the local population. Nine of the 36 tribes awarded funding, as well as some of the largest prizes, are residents of Alaska.
These tribal energy incentives are also expected to boost quality of life on reservations through increased job opportunities and reduced energy costs, issues which plague developing world conditions even in the heart of a global superpower.
The majority of funding will go to wind power research and development, which is not too surprising given that a good portion of tribal lands exist in some of our nation’s windiest corridors. Several, however, will focus on solar power, such as $150,000 for solar feasibility studies going to the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians in southern California and $250,000 to To’hajiilee Economic Development, Inc. in New Mexico.
See the Department of Energy website for a full list of awards.
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