DOE promotes renewable energy development in tribal communities

By Bryan Sims | January 20, 2011

The U.S. DOE announced that up to $10 million in funding will be available this year to support the evaluation, development and deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy projects on tribal lands. The funding will go through the DOE’s Tribal Energy Program, which is expected to help save energy and money, expand the use of renewable energy resources and promote economic development for tribal communities.  

Indian tribes, tribal energy resource development organizations and tribal consortia on whose lands the projects will be located are eligible to apply for the available funding. The funds, according to the DOE, will support three project areas: first steps and capacity building, energy efficiency development and deployment, and renewable energy development and deployment.

Specific amount of funds will be allocated to support each area. According to the DOE, up to $1.5 million is expected to support the projects focused on capacity building and strategic planning, which can include energy resource and infrastructure analysis, the development of an energy organization and training programs. The energy efficiency and renewable energy deployment initiatives are expected to receive up to $4 million each to study the technical and economic feasibility of future energy efficiency improvements or renewable energy projects. The funding, however, is “subject to continuing congressional appropriations,” according to the DOE.

Wayne Lee, principal with Little Rock, Ark.-based biodiesel consulting group Lee Enterprises, said the firm found the announcement by the DOE as a great opportunity for tribal communities to consider biodiesel, the nation’s first advanced biofuel, to meet their renewable energy needs.

“I think the new initiatives are really a good step in the right direction in the overall arena of biofuels,” Lee told Biodiesel Magazine, adding that his staff is well-versed in Native American grant writing and other services for biodiesel project development. “Certainly, the tribal nations are in a very good position to take advantage of this and other benefits of clean energy.”

U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu also announced that the department’s Tribal Summit with American Indian and Alaska Native leaders will be held May 5 in Washington. The department’s new Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs intends to work closely with the Office of Congressional Affairs in reaching out to tribal leaders in the design of the Summit.

The full funding opportunity announcements will be available online at or accessible through DOE’s Tribal Energy Program website


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