Tag Archives: Sam Burrish – Ho-Chunk Inc’s Communications Manager

Nebraska tribe to double solar capacity after landing federal grant

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska has installed more than 400 kilowatts of solar, including these on a senior housing facility.

The Winnebago tribe plans to install 320 kilowatts of solar panels in nine locations on the reservation, to serve about 221,660 square feet. The new installation will provide electricity to two gas stations, the tribe’s casino, its accounting office and a community center, and is expected to reduce electric use at those locations by 6 percent. The tribe expects to save $47,000 annually on its electric bill as a result.

Earlier this year, the tribe finished installing 400 kilowatts of solar capacity, funded in part by a $375,000 federal grant. It put solar panels on the tribal powwow grounds, the economic development office, veterans’ building, senior center, and some senior housing. Robert Byrnes, whose company will install the arrays, said he anticipates beginning work no later than November and finishing in the spring. Read more here.

ALSO WRITTEN BY KAREN UHLENHUTH

 

Nebraska tribe becomes a solar power leader on the plains

 

 

 

Omaha hotel is first project financed with Nebraska’s PACE legislation
Lincoln, Nebraska, is expected to follow Omaha in establishing a PACE program under the state’s 2015 law.

 

ABOUT KAREN UHLENHUTH

Karen spent most of her career reporting for The Kansas City Star, focusing at various times on local and regional news, and features. More recently, she was employed as a researcher and writer for a bioethics center at a children’s hospital in Kansas City.

Thank you to everyone who attended The Winnebago Tribe’s Solar Development Tour!

Many thanks to everyone who joined us for the tour, including representatives from Ho-Chunk, Inc. and other solar enthusiasts from Ho-Chunk Village, Lyons, Sioux City, South Sioux City, Blair, Tekamah, Lincoln, Omaha, and Boston, among other places.

Special thanks to our tour host, Robert Byrnes, owner of Nebraska Renewable Energy Systems and The Winnebago Tribe’s Sustainability Director. For many years Robert has been on the front lines of policy development within Nebraska. He lives on a small off-grid farm in Lyons, where he raises beef, poultry and pork. Robert is an organic chemist by education and an industrial chemist by trade. His work in that field resulted in the first and largest commercial biodiesel plant in eastern Nebraska. His current focus is on opportunities in solar and wind energy development in our state.

Top Photo Credit: David Corbin, Nebraskans for Solar Board Member. (Some attendees not in the photo were still visiting with one another and others had left to start the tour).
Photo of Robert at his farm: NET

Stats from a handout that Sam Burrish, Ho-Chunk Inc’s
Communications Manager, provided at the tour

Winnebago Renewable Energy Projects

Our significant progress in 2017 works toward larger goals of Tribal self-sufficiency and good stewardship of the environment. In 2017 Ho-Chunk, Inc. and the Winnebago Tribe made an investment of over $700,000 in renewable energy with the support of U.S. Department of Energy grants. The tribe received one of only 13 national awards from DOE.

The total project funding breakdown:

  • $374,653 in Grants from the Office of Indian Energy at the Department of Energy
  • $374,654 in matching grants from Tribal sources, including Ho-Chunk, Inc.

Ho-Chunk, Inc. has worked with Nebraska Renewable Energy Systems for these multiple projects in 2017.

Highlights Include:

  • 1,000 solar panels installed at 14 sites across the Winnebago Community. These include: Pony Express, Veterans Park, Ho-Chunk, Inc. Headquarters, and the Senior Center.
  • These projects will offset 25% to 75% of total energy usage at these sites.

Future Plans:

  • Continue clean energy projects in Ho-Chunk Village
  • Develop clean energy strategies in the development of Ho-Chunk Village 2.0
  • Explore outside partnership efforts (investors, tax credit leveraging, etc.)

If you missed the event and would like to enjoy a self-guided tour of the beautiful Winnebago Reservation and see, firsthand, why their community’s renewable energy development is a model for 100+ other tribes nationwide, here are the directions, below. (The drive is also picturesque):

From Omaha, 77N or 75N through Winnebago and turn left into parking lot for Pony Express/Titan Motors on the north side of town. Solar Farm is on north side of commercial spaces.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING & VIEWING

The Winnebago Community’s Renewable Energy Development A Part of Overall Mission

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.

Ho-Chunk, Inc’s Website

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.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
Winnebago Tribe sees power from solar energy as boost to sovereignty, by Kevin Abourezk, Indianz.Com

UPCOMING EVENTS

  • 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.