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WASHINGTON — In addition to articles already covered by Native News Online, here is a roundup of other news released from Washington, D.C. that impacts Indian Country recently.

The Department of Energy Announces $48 Million in Grid Resilience Grants for States & Tribal Nations to Modernize Electric Grid

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) on Thursday announced three states and nine tribal nations will receive a combined total of $48.4 million as the sixth cohort of Grid Resilience State and Tribal Formula Grants.

Supported by the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and administered by DOE’s Grid Deployment Office, these grants will help modernize the electric grid to reduce impacts of climate-driven extreme weather and natural disasters while also ensuring power sector reliability. This funding will enable communities to access affordable, reliable, clean electricity while helping deliver on the President Joe Biden's ambitious clean energy goals. 

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The announcement included grant funding for the states of Alaska, Utah and Virginia. Additionally, these tribal nations will receive the funding:

  • Blackfeet Tribe of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation will decrease the frequency and duration of electrical outages on the Reservation and address the energy burden experienced by low-income tribal members and disadvantaged communities. The funding will also enhance the tribal workforce, update failing infrastructure, and advance energy justice by focusing on projects on the reservation with a preference for projects on trust lands. (Amount: $458,123)

  • Chalkyitsik Village will support a continuous supply of power in the system and will improve grid reliability by decreasing the number of outages and improving the ability to recover after severe weather events. The grant funding will also be used to develop battery energy storage for critical facilities and will support addressing the energy burden experienced by low-income tribal members. (Amount: $112,439)

  • Citizen Potawatomi Nation will decrease the frequency and duration of electrical outages on the Reservation and address the energy burden experienced by low-income tribal members and disadvantaged communities. The grant funds will also enhance the tribal workforce, allow updates to failing infrastructure, and advance energy justice by focusing on projects on the reservation. (Amount: $1.3 million)

  • Fort Sill Apache Tribe will ensure critical tribal facilities are not impacted by disruptive events such as extreme weather and will implement improved controls, automation, and communication technology to enhance local grid operations and control. Grant funds will also be used to address outdated or failing infrastructure and support tribal workforce development to support grid resilience measures. (Amount: $684,000)

  • Galena Village (aka Louden Village) will support a continuous supply of power to consumers, reduce outage risks, develop projects and approaches for backup power, and advance partnerships with utilities to develop clean energy. (Amount: $112,894)

  • Match-e-be-nash-she-wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians will ensure critical tribal community facilities are not impacted by extreme weather and other disruptive events and will address the energy burden faced by the tribal community. The grant funds will also be used to increase the skilled workforce within the tribe, support good-paying jobs, address capacity limitations, and invest in modernizing the energy infrastructure. (Amount: $183,155)

  • Native Village of Port Graham will maintain a continuous supply of power that is acceptable to consumers, and will reduce outage risks, and improve the ability to recover from disruptive events. The grant funds will also support battery storage for critical facilities and improve partnerships between the Tribe and utilities to support affordability and improved service to tribal members. (Amount: $181,493)

  • Seneca Nation of Indians will ensure critical community facilities are not impacted by extreme weather events and will address the energy burden experienced by low-income tribal members. The grant funding will also be used to increase the skilled tribal energy workforce, and invest in modernizing the electric grid, including addressing outdated or failing infrastructure. (Amount: $479,021)

  • Summit Lake Paiute Tribe will ensure critical facilities are not impacted by disruptive events by providing backup power to enhance system adaptive capacity and will reduce disruptions to grid operations from extreme weather events. The grant funds will also increase the tribal workforce to support energy resilience, and will allow investments in grid modernization, while increasing electrification in response to evolving needs. (Amount: $115,833)
FCC's Office of Native Affairs and Policy is Seeking Comments on Tribal Nation's Wireless Access

The Office of Native Affairs and Policy at the Federal Communication Department (FCC) released a Public Notice (Notice) seeking public comment on ways in which the Commission can improve its understanding of how and the extent to which Tribal Nations and the Native Hawaiian Community, as defined in the Notice, are able to access wireless spectrum. 

In order to assess current and future policy efforts relating to spectrum designed to close the digital divide, the Notice seeks information about how Tribal Nations and the Native Hawaiian Community are accessing spectrum, whether it be through direct licensing or other means. 

Although Tribal Nations and the Native Hawaiian Community hold spectrum licenses in various wireless bands, the Commission’s current wireless licensing application forms do not collect information to identify Tribal or Native Hawaiian applicants.  This leads to an incomplete picture of wireless spectrum access by Tribal Nations and Native Hawaiian Community.  Therefore, the Notice seeks comment on the potential addition of categories or questions to the Commission’s wireless licensing forms to better identify Tribal or Native Hawaiian applicants seeking to obtain, or currently holding, spectrum licenses.  Some examples of areas where the Notice seeks comment:

  • What are appropriate categories, questions, and terminology that will recognize both the sovereign status of Tribal Nations, as well as the broad diversity of Tribal Nations and the Native Hawaiian Community?
  • If we add categories or questions to the Commission’s wireless licensing forms to more readily identify Tribal or Native Hawaiian applicants, should the collection of this additional information be mandatory or optional?
  • Should the forms collect responses only from Tribal Nations or Tribal government entities, or should they also collect responses from non-governmental Tribal entities, such as businesses, or individual Tribal citizens? 
    • If the forms collect responses from non-governmental Tribal entities, what criteria should the forms use to identify those entities (e.g., some minimum amount of Tribal control)? 
  • To what extent have Tribal Nations and the Native Hawaiian Community been able to successfully access licensed spectrum through secondary market transactions in the recent past (for example, leasing arrangements and the partitioning or disaggregation of licenses held by carriers or other non-Tribal entities)? 
  • Are there ways in which the Commission can expand awareness among Tribal Nations and the Native Hawaiian Community about how they can access spectrum without applying for a license (for example, General Authorized Access Tier of the Citizen’s Broadband Radio Service, unlicensed use in White Spaces, and the 5 GHz band)? 

Comments to the Notice must be filed by November 30, 2023.  We encourage you to submit comments to ensure that voices in the Native community are considered.  You can submit an electronic filing by going to the Submit a Standard Filing portion of the Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System, where you can begin by entering the docket number “23-265” in the “Proceeding(s)” field.  For more detailed information, including how to submit paper filings, please refer to the Notice:  https://www.fcc.gov/document/pn-tribal-spectrum-access-and-data

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