Indigenized Energy Initiative to install 1.25 MW of solar power for Northern Cheyenne Tribe

Indigenized Energy Initiative

The Indigenized Energy Initiative (IEI), the Native-led non-profit that aims to empower Native American communities with the skills and resources to deploy the clean and regenerative power of solar, announced it has been selected by the Northern Cheyenne Tribe to develop the White River Community Solar Project. The project will include residential, small commercial and a 1-MW utility-scale system for a total of 1.25 MW of solar photovoltaic systems across the Northern Cheyenne reservation in Montana. The US Department of Energy (DOE) is providing $3.2 million in funding for the project and requires the Tribe to contribute 20% in matching funds, equaling almost $1 million. IEI is taking the lead in securing the matching funds by June of 2022 by seeking project sponsors and donors for this important project.

Located in the heart of the coal development region of Eastern Montana, the Northern Cheyenne Tribe has remained steady in their resistance to fossil fuels. In 2016, The Northern Cheyenne Tribal Council passed a resolution to pursue renewable energy. Today, the White River Community Solar Project represents the first step the Tribe is taking to generate all of its own energy from renewables while also creating jobs and driving economic development.

“Solar energy offers us a chance to regain our independence and stop reliance on fossil fuels,” said Kyle Alderman, renewable energy manager for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. “We’re excited to work with IEI, a Native-led initiative committed to energy sovereignty and to honoring the social, economic, spiritual and environmental concerns of Indigenous Americans.”

IEI will partner with Red Cloud Renewable, a Lakota Sioux-based sustainability education and training organization, to design and deliver specialized training programs for Tribal members, which will equip them with the job skills to build these projects.

Three types of solar projects will be built as part of the White River project, including: one large array in Busby that will be shaped in the pattern of the Morning Star; three smaller systems to offset electricity used at the Busby High School, a Head Start facility, and a water pumping station; and 15 residential solar systems, which will benefit Tribal elsewhere.

“Part of the White River Community Solar Project plan includes building residential solar systems at the homes of Tribal elsewhere — each carefully selected by the Tribe as deserving and in need,” explained Otto Braided Hair, Jr., co-founder of IEI. “This will reduce energy costs for our Tribal elswhere and some of the systems will include batteries that provide emergency power to homes where elswhere are dependent on medical equipment that requires electricity.”

IEI and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe are seeking project sponsors and donors to help secure the matching funds needed for this important project, which demonstrates that it is possible for Tribes to take back their power and sovereignty.

News item from the Indigenized Energy Initiative

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