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

Indigenous Energy Initiative

The Indigenized Energy Initiative (IEI), the Indigenized-led non-profit organization that aims to equip Native American communities with the skills and resources to harness the clean and regenerative power of solar energy, has announced that it has been launched by the Northern Cheyenne. Tribe has been selected to support the White River community solar project. The project includes residential, small commercial and a utility-scale 1-MW system for a total of 1.25 MW photovoltaic solar systems in the northern Cheyenne reservation in Montana. The United States Department of Energy (DOE) is providing $3.2 million in funding for the project and requires the tribe to contribute 20% in matching funds, equating to nearly $1 million. IEI takes the lead in securing the matching funds by June 2022 by seeking project sponsors and donors for this important project.

Located in the heart of eastern Montana’s coal development region, the northern Cheyenne tribe has remained steadfast 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 tribe’s first step to generate all of its own energy from renewable energy sources while creating jobs and boosting economic development.

“Solar provides us an opportunity to regain our independence and stop being dependent on fossil fuels,” said Kyle Alderman, renewable energy manager for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. “We are excited to partner with IEI, an Indigenous-led initiative committed to energy sovereignty and honoring the social, economic, spiritual and environmental concerns of Native 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, equipping them with the skills to build these projects.

Three types of solar projects will be built as part of the White River project, including: a large array in Busby that will be formed in the Morning Star pattern; three smaller systems to offset the electricity consumption of Busby High School, a Head Start facility and a water pumping station; and 15 residential solar systems, whose tribal elders will benefit.

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

IEI and the Northern Cheyenne Tribe are looking for project sponsors and donors to secure the necessary funds for this important project, demonstrating that it is possible for Tribes to take back their power and sovereignty.

News release from the Indigenized Energy Initiative

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