Pretty, arrays with lake behind and Ponemah in the distance
Published May 14, 2018
Will Finish by Tuesday, May 15, Red Lake Nation College is Next
RED LAKE INDIAN RESERVATION – Red Lake Nation will replace all electric energy now generated by lignite coal with solar energy, now and into the future for the entire reservation, and in harmony with the Anishinaabe worldview of respect for Mother Earth. These new solar energy technologies will be completely installed and functioning by 2020.” ~Red Lake Solar Initiative Vision Statement
Installation of various photovoltaic arrays commenced on Red Lake Nation buildings beginning with the Government Center on Friday, May 11, 2018. Installers worked through the weekend and are expected to finish on Tuesday, May 15. Panels and brackets were raised to the roof of the Government Building in late March.
The next building to get the solar arrays will be the other Twin Eagle building, Red Lake Nation College. Following these two buildings will be the three Seven Clans Casinos at Red Lake, Thief River Falls, and Warroad. Other government building will follow suit including all Red Lake Schools at an estimated savings of nearly $2 million per year.
The solar power plan is divided into three phases, with the Government Building being part of Phase I. The first phase consists of developing between $20-$30 million in solar energy equipment, as well as solar energy training for the Red Lake workforce.
Brackets being and electric connections being installed
Red Lake will install 15 megawatts — equal to 15 million watts — worth of solar panels across the rooftops of its largest buildings. When they’re done, the panels will generate enough power to light every bulb in the tribe’s three casinos, the tribal college and all government buildings.
But the 15-megawatt rooftop installation is only the first step of a larger renewable energy plan. The band has also negotiating with Minnesota Power to build and operate a solar farm.
Phase II will be the development of solar energy farms and will consist of 40 – 100 acres of solar panels that will provide 10 – 20 MW of electricity to be sold to the grid, thus, producing a steady revenue stream for years to come for the Tribe. The solar farm on the ceded lands now may have wind energy added, and a solar energy plant and school on the reservation will train members to manufacture, install and maintain solar panels on member’s homes.
Phase III will be the development of a solar energy plant that will produce solar equipment for the industry, while providing jobs assembling solar panels for the members of Red Lake Nation.
Arrays to the left, brackets to the right
It’s one of the largest solar projects planned in northern Minnesota, and tribal leaders said it is a big step toward energy independence for the Red Lake Nation.
“The development of these projects are designed to address our basic needs and understandings,” said Red Lake Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr. “They include the preservation and conservation of our environment, providing an energy source which is compatible with our beliefs of living in harmony with nature, the diversification of our economy and investments, improving the quality of life, training for our labor force, and employment; jobs for our People. The development of these projects will be funded by the entities themselves, via the program or the business revenue generated by itself, and Not Using General Funds of the Tribe.”
Photos by Michael Meuers