Investing in Tribal Success: DOE’s Tribal Energy Deployment Program

Investing in Tribal Success: DOE’s Tribal Energy Deployment Program


Nathan Nash:
Nobody notices energy until it’s gone really. We’ve been out for weeks at a time, days at
a time, and our diversification is a need more than just a want. Dave Pelunis-Messier:
All of our villages that are off the road system, the main source of electricity is
from diesel generators, and that’s our supply for energy, for health clinics, for peoples’
houses for heat in the winter. If the electricity goes out, if the power goes down, you know
we have really big problems. And so it’s like a tenuous thread in some ways, so that’s our
life link, basically. Doug MacCourt:
The tribes are in a fairly unique position with renewable energy or clean energy projects
partly because the goal of having clean energy is a very good fit with a lot of the mission
of the tribal government and the tribal people to improve their quality of life, make the
best use of the resources that they have. Frannie Hughes:
When we go out to harvest food, fish, and meat, we do not waste anything. Everything
is accounted for, everything is used, and honey, if we can’t eat it, we’re going to
make art with it. Doug MacCourt:
Part of the challenge has been that tribal governments often don’t have as much experience
in or capacity as the private sector or their comparable state or federal counterparts in
managing and using these resources. And so we have to build that capacity from the ground
up. One of the great things about the tribal energy program is that has been part of the
core mission from the beginning. Lizana Pierce:
The main intent of the program has been really to provide financial and technical assistance
and the information and education to the tribe so that they can reach their energy efficient. Gepetta Billie:
There are a lot of tribes out there who are actually doing stuff. They’re making things
happen for themselves. They’re not just sitting back and waiting to be saved anymore. They’re
learning how to articulate a vision for themselves that comes from an understanding of where
they’ve been and where they want to go, and they’re pulling together as many resources
as they can that are available to them to implement projects that will make meaningful
changes within their communities. Dave Pelunis-Messier:
Seeing is believing, and the TEP program has been able to fund some great projects that
have allowed people to see that the stuff is possible, and it’s possible off the road
system. It’s possible on a small micro-grid, and it’s possible with local labor with some
assistance as required. But you’ve got to start somewhere. You know, and the TEP program
has definitely allowed a lot of my villages to have that start, and then others will be
able to follow where they’ve led. Tanya Martinez:
My vision would be decreasing our energy consumption and being able to take advantage of all the
resources available to that community, whether it be solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, ground
source, heat pumps, day lighting, and creating homes and buildings and communities that are
more in synch with their environment. Dave Pelunis-Messier:
Having electricity, it’s a modern comfort. Everybody likes being able to take warm showers,
to go to the washeteria, to go to the health clinic in their community, and the backbone
of that is electricity, and so by doing more renewable energy projects, doing more energy
efficient projects, we kind of give them more control over their energy future. Doug MacCourt:
I’m actually very optimistic about the future. Tribes can serve the renewable energy needs
and much of the total energy needs of this country if they can actually participate in
the market. Craig Moore:
I think tribes having access to that tribal energy program is extremely important because
they’re the ones right in those communities. They know what needs to be done, they know
what their issues are, and they do need some assistance in helping reach solutions, so
I think your program is excellent for that. Lizana Pierce:
My hope for the future is that we can build upon the successes that the tribes have made
to date that we can continue to provide services, whether it be technical assistance, funding,
education, information, and we can see this pipeline of projects be realized.

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