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The Yurok Tribe will have a seat at the table when decisions are being made about renewable energy projects in northern California.  

That’s because the Yurok Tribe recently became the first tribal government to join the Redwood Coast Energy Authority (RCEA), a joint powers agreement of local governments that are working together to develop sustainable energy initiatives throughout the region. The energy authority’s members — including the County of Humboldt, the cities of Arcata, Blue Lake, Ferndale, Fortuna, Rio Dell, and Trinidad, the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District — passed a resolution this month to add the Tribe. 

 Yurok Vice Chairman Frankie Myers will represent the Tribe on the RCEA’s board. Myers has decades of experience in natural resources management, community development and cultural preservation. He is president of the Prey-go-neesh Construction Corporation, a tribal enterprise, and is leading the Tribe’s effort to equitably engage in the prospective floating offshore wind energy projects along California’s North Coast.

By bringing on Myers as a representative of the Tribe, the RCEA provides the Yurok a seat at the table in discussing, planning, and supporting renewable energy projects in the region, Myers told Tribal Business News

“We joined RCEA because its mission to implement initiatives that increase access to affordable, clean energy aligns with our core values,” Myers said. “We strongly believe the transition to sustainable energy sources is essential to the long-term health and prosperity of the community.”

RCEA executive director Matthew Marshall said bringing the tribe into the authority marked the next step in a long-time cooperative spirit between the two entities. 

“It’s exciting to have Yurok joining the RCEA,” Marshall said. “Over RCEA’s 20 years of serving Humboldt County we’ve worked with the tribe on many projects, and we are very much looking forward to building on that relationship and having tribal representation on our governing board.”

The RCEA pushes as a whole to develop and implement sustainable energy initiatives in the Humboldt County region, according to a statement from the organization. 

That lines up with Yurok’s efforts, which have included a $1.4 million solar installation funded by the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Program High Energy Cost Grant, as well as smaller efforts such as a panel array in the community of Tulley Creek, Myers said. 

“Energy means a lot of things - economic development, sovereignty, combating climate change,” Myers told Tribal Business News. “Joining the local authority prepares us to help guide those efforts in the area.”

Joining the authority isn’t the only energy-related announcement to come from the Yurok tribe in recent weeks: the tribe has spearheaded a push to build a workforce to support renewable energy efforts in the area alongside Cal Poly Humboldt and the College of the Redwoods, Myers said.

In particular Myers pointed to an opportunity regarding a Bureau of Ocean Energy Management project involving 130,000 acres of off-shore, floating wind generators off of the Humboldt coast. In December, that project was leased to California North Floating, LLC (a subsidiary of contractor Copenhagen Infrastructure Partners) and RWE Offshore Wind Holdings, LLC. In late February, the Yurok announced their plans to train a workforce for future jobs arising from the wind farm’s development. 

By preparing workers to meet the needs of the new contractors in the region, the Yurok both support the needs of the climate-safe, sustainable energy development in the area and launch promising careers for newfound energy industry employees, Myers said. 

“This is going to be a big deal for a lot of people,” Myers said. “It’s a big deal for the authority to have a tribal government as part of the organization, and I think it’s exciting for tribes as a whole, engaging in this way going forward.”

About The Author
Chez Oxendine
Staff Writer
Chez Oxendine (Lumbee-Cheraw) is a staff writer for Tribal Business News. Based in Oklahoma, he focuses on broadband, Indigenous entrepreneurs, and federal policy. His journalism has been featured in Native News Online, Fort Gibson Times, Muskogee Phoenix, Baconian Magazine, and Oklahoma Magazine, among others.
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