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WASHINGTON — Thirteen American Indian and Alaska Native communities across five states received a collective $12 million in federal funding to support energy projects aimed at reducing costs and improving energy security. 

The U.S. Department of Energy grants will go toward clean energy generation and battery storage, among other projects, serving more than 1,300 tribally owned buildings and resulting in an estimated annual savings of $1.8 million, according to a statement. 

Seven of the funded projects serve Alaska Native communities, three are based in California and one each are in Colorado, Florida and Washington.

“These selections, the first from the Office of Indian Energy this year, underscore the Biden Administration’s commitment to ensuring that communities disproportionately affected by climate change directly benefit from clean energy investments,” Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm said in a statement.  

The grant recipients included: 

  • Pala Band of Mission Indians in Pala, Calif., which will use $3 million to install solar PV systems and battery storage to provide autonomous operations of multiple tribal facilities during emergency situations
  • Seminole Tribe of Florida, which will receive nearly $2.2 million to install solar PV and battery storage to power four facilities on its Brighton reservation
  • the Alaska Native Village of Noatak and the Northwest Arctic Borough, which will use nearly $2 million to deploy a high-penetration solar PV and battery energy storage system and integrate it with the village’s diesel electric grid
  • the Metlakatla Indian Community in Alaska, who will use the $1 million to complete the electrical connection between the Annette Island Reserve and the mainland community of Ketchikan
  • the Kipnuk Light Plant, a tribally owned utility of the Alaska Native Village of Kipnuk, which will leverage nearly $856,000 to buy, install and integrate a battery energy storage system 
  • the Village of Chefornak in Alaska, which along with community utility Naterkag Light Plant will use nearly $855,000 to buy a battery storage system 
  • Dry Creek Rancheria Band of Pomo Indians in Geyserville, Calif., which will receive nearly $557,000 to install solar photovoltaics (PV) on 25 homes and a community building
  • the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe in Towaoc, Colo., via its Towaoc Housing Solar Initiative, which will receive $428,000 to install solar PV systems on 20 homes and a supportive housing facility 
  • the San Pasqual Band of Mission Indians in Valley Center, Calif. will use about $400,500 to install a community-scale solar PV system
  • the Alaska Native Village of Diomede, which will receive nearly $223,000 to install energy efficiency measures in a new store in the village
  • the Quinault Indian Nation in Taholah, Wash., which will use $201,000 to install solar PV and battery storage at a new community facility
  • the Alaska Village of Aniak, which will use nearly $168,000 to install energy retrofits on four essential multi-use buildings and a community center 
  • the Akiachak Native Community in Alaska, which will receive $123,220 to install energy-efficient retrofits in five multi-use buildings

“Alaska is unique; our often unforgiving terrain and environment present many challenges for our remote villages,” U.S. Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, said in a statement. “Energy is a critical need, and serves as the basis for economic opportunity and prosperity. Our Native communities should be entrusted to develop their own lands and resources. This funding will go a long way toward increasing energy efficiency, harnessing natural resources, reducing long-term energy costs, and improving air quality.”

With the latest round, the Department of Energy’s Office of Indian Energy has issued more than $100 million in grants in more than 190 tribal energy projects since 2010, according to a statement. 

“We know that Tribal energy projects not only benefit our environment, but they also help improve community resiliency and foster economic development in Indian Country,” U.S. Sen. Alex Padilla, D-Calif., said in a statement. “That is why I’m glad to see this Department of Energy grant award going to three tribes in California. This funding will assist tribes in maximizing their clean energy potential while building Tribal capacity and creating jobs, combatting the climate crisis, and saving Tribal communities money on their energy bills. As we move forward with discussions about improving our infrastructure and building a clean energy economy for all, I’ll continue working in the Senate to make sure Tribal communities across California are not left behind.”