The U.S. Department of Energy today awarded almost $9 million in funding to 13 Native American communities for projects that will increase alternative energy, reduce energy costs, and increase energy security on tribal lands.

Tribes from Alaska, California, Idaho, Washington, New Mexico, Minnesota, and Arizona were selected for the competitive grants.

The projects will provide communities with clean electricity, power residential buildings that lack electricity, install microgrids and increase workforce training opportunities, according to the Department’s press release.

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The largest grants were awarded to Navajo Nation in Arizona at a pre-negotiated amount of $2.8 million and the Karuk Tribe in Northern California at nearly the same amount—each with half the awarded amount matched in cost sharing by the tribe. 

The Navajo Nation will use its funds to install a microgrid to provide power and internet for one of its communities currently without power. The Karuk Tribe will use the money to install a ground-mounted solar panel to power the tribe’s casino and administrative trailers, and another roof solar panel to power the tribe’s wellness center. Cumulatively, the solar panel systems are estimated to save the tribe over $9.8 million.

The Karuk Tribe secured a second grant from the Department of Energy to install battery storage on 39 elder’s homes to provide power for critical infrastructure during grid outages.

Another innovative awardee, a tribal corporation in Western Alaska—Kawerak, Inc.— received funding to power 18 tribal buildings by harnessing power from a local hotspring. “The project is intended to meet the long-term goals of eliminating fossil fuel dependency at the site, provide geothermal heat for local food production, and allow economic development of this historic site located 60 miles north of Nome, Alaska,” according to the Department of Energy.

Click here to read more about each project selected.

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About The Author
Jenna Kunze
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Staff Writer
Jenna Kunze is a reporter for Native News Online and Tribal Business News. Her bylines have appeared in The Arctic Sounder, High Country News, Indian Country Today, Smithsonian Magazine and Anchorage Daily News. In 2020, she was one of 16 U.S. journalists selected by the Pulitzer Center to report on the effects of climate change in the Alaskan Arctic region. Prior to that, she served as lead reporter at the Chilkat Valley News in Haines, Alaska. Kunze is based in New York.