WASHINGTON, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced today nearly $9 million in funding for 15 tribal energy infrastructure projects. This funding through the DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs will help Native American and Alaska Native communities harness their vast undeveloped energy resources to reduce or stabilize energy costs, as well as increase energy security and resilience.
Ho-Chunk, Inc., owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, will install 320 kW of solar PV to serve nine tribal facilities. This project will add 320 kW of installed solar capacity to the existing 400 kW, for a total of 720 kW toward the Tribe’s near-term goal of 1 MW.
The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska already boasts 400 kilowatts of installed solar panels, more than nearly any other Midwestern Indian tribe. It doesn’t plan to stop there. The American Indian tribe expects to learn later this summer whether it will receive a federal grant to pay half the cost of an additional 300 kilowatts. Tribal leaders in this community of about 850 people in northeastern Nebraska say the solar push, which started a decade ago, advances commitments to sustainability and self-sufficiency, and is cutting electric bills.
“We’ve had 100 tribes visit our community,” [Ann Marie Bledsoe-Downes, vice president for community impact and engagement of Ho-Chunk Inc] said. “We talk about many subjects with these leaders. We spend substantial time on our renewable-energy effort. Other tribes say, ‘Let’s do what Winnebago is doing.’ It resonates with people that we are taking control over our own resources.” Read the entire articlehere. Photo by The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska showing solar systems on senior housing.
UPCOMING EVENT – SAVE THE DATE & JOIN US!
Tour The Winnebago Tribe’s Solar Farm And More Renewable Energy Sites
Sponsored by Nebraskans for Solar Hosted by Robert Byrnes, Owner of Nebraska Renewable Energy Systems and The Winnebago Community’s Sustainability Coordinator
When: August 11, 2018 from 11am to 3pm, or for as long as you want to stay. Where: We’ll meet at the Winnebago Solar Farm at 11am for a tour, discussion,
Q&A and lunch–and then visit more sites. See our calendar for directions.
Nebraska Renewable Energy Systems, the Winnebago Community, and Ho-Chunk Inc, the tribe’s award-winning economic corporation, are developing one of the largest renewable energy infrastructures in the state. They’ve installed solar arrays at 14 sites.
Please bring your lunch and lawn chairs. Nebraskans for Solar will provide
a variety of cold drinks and desserts. Carpoolers may have an extra dessert.
RECOMMENDED VIEWING A delegation of Winnebago tribal and business leaders, including Ho-Chunk Inc. CEO Lance Morgan, spoke at a luncheon on Tuesday, March 13, 2018, for state senators at the Nebraska State Capitol.
By Sam Burrish, Communications Manager, Ho-Chunk, Inc.
A community-scale renewable energy effort in the northeast Nebraska community of Winnebago is creating one of the largest renewable energy infrastructures in the state. A solar panel farm is among 14 renewable energy projects recently completed, part of a $700,000 total investment in renewable energy with the support of U.S. Department of Energy grants.
Ho-Chunk, Inc. and the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska received two of only 13 national awards from the DOE. The funding includes $395,000 in grants from the Office of Indian Energy at the Department of Energy and $395,000 in matching funds from tribal sources, including Ho-Chunk, Inc.
Currently, Ho-Chunk, Inc. is working with Nebraska Renewable Energy Systems for these multiple projects. They’ve installed 1,000 solar panels at 14 sites across the Winnebago Reservation that will generate over 300 kilowatts of solar power, effectively reducing energy bills by about $40,000 a year. These projects will offset 25 to 75% of total energy usage at the sites.
Solar installation sites include the Tribal Pow Wow Grounds, Winnebago Senior Center, the Senior Housing Complex in Ho-Chunk Village, and the solar panel farm on the north end of the community. The project also includes wind turbine replacement for Little Priest Tribal College. Ho-Chunk, Inc.’s mission is to drive the socio-economic development of the Winnebago people through a world-class tribally-owned company. Their award-winning business model reinvests in the Tribe through programs including employment, housing, education and health. Located in northeast Nebraska, Winnebago has a tribal membership of 5,300.
Images Courtesy of Sam Burrish: Robert Byrnes, owner of Nebraska Renewable Energy Systems (top photo) and the Winnebago Tribe’s Solar Panel Farm on the north end of the community, with one of Byrnes’ crew members working on it.
Spring Ribbon Cutting
The Winnebago Community and Renewable Energy Systems are planning a ribbon cutting ceremony later on this spring. Details will be announced in Nebraskans for Solar’s newsletter and posted on our calendar, NewsBlog and Facebook Page.
Summer Tour of The Winnebago Reservation’s Solar Sites
Robert Byrnes, owner of Nebraska Renewable Energy Systems, is coordinating with the Winnebago Community to host a requested August tour for Nebraskans for Solar’ and Nebraska Solar Schools’ ListServe members. Watch our calendar and newsletters for more information.