Category: Native American tribes

Next Tribal webinar, May 29, highlights transmission issues

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas and the eight U.S. regional reliability organizations are expanding regional transmission planning activities and broadening stakeholder involvement to plan for East-West interconnections. Hear about the status of the organizations’ plans and evaluations of long-term regional transmission needs.

Register today for Regional Transmission Planning, fifth webinar in the free series, Turning Knowledge into Energy Projects. All webinars in the series are scheduled for 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Mountain Time.

Western and DOE’s Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs and Tribal Energy Program have teamed up to present the webinars. Don’t miss these events if you are looking for ways to promote tribal energy sufficiency and foster economic development and employment on tribal lands through renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. You will learn about marketing, transmission, financing, partnerships and much more.

Western conducted grid reliability webinar

Western Area Power Administration conducted a Grid Reliability—Impacts to Tribal Renewable Projects webinar in partnership with the U.S. DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs and DOE Tribal Energy Program July 25.

About 55 Tribal members and interested parties participated in the webinar with 112 registering for the event. Western’s Reliability Compliance Program Manager was the featured speaker, covering topics such as key definitions, reliability organizations, oversight process, standards and enforcement among other reliability considerations. 

Western’s Renewable Resource Program Manager Randy Manion shared, “This webinar was the eighth in the Fiscal Year 2012 Tribal Webinar series coordinated by Western. Laurent Weber, Western’s Reliability Compliance Program manager, did a masterful job explaining complex issues.”

The webinar series is giving Western transmission and power marketing experts a platform to share their incredible knowledge and expertise with Tribal representatives, renewable energy developers and other important stakeholders.

Government initiatives support tribal access to energy advancements

Over the last week, the Federal government took multiple steps to bring energy advancements to tribal lands.

  1. Department of Interior Secretary Salazar approved a 350-megawatt solar energy project on the Moapa River Indian Reservation in Nevada on July 21. This project is the first-ever of its kind, being the only utility-scale development on tribal lands. The project supports President Obama’s all-of-the-above approach to energy and builds on the Administration’s efforts to advance renewable energy on America’s public lands. This innovative project is another step toward developing renewable energy resources on tribal lands with the hope of strengthening Native American economies.
  2. The Department of Energy announced Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team selections for six tribes in the lower 48 states to receive on-the-ground technical support for community-based energy efficiency and renewable energy projects. The START program provides both tribal communities and Alaska native villages with technical assistance to accelerate clean energy project development, advance energy self-sufficiency and create jobs.
  3. DOE recently launched an online resource library focused on energy topics relevant to tribal communities. The library lists links to more than 85 publications, websites and other resources about energy project development and financing in Indian Country. Topics include project checklists, technology, tribal case studies and strategic energy planning.
  4. Lastly, DOE announced the appointment of three additional tribal members for its Indian Country Energy and Infrastructure Working Group. The new tribal team members are the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, Crow Tribe of Montana and Tlingit and Haida Tribes of Alaska. Established in 2011, the group is made up of geographically diverse Native American energy leaders who discuss issues affecting tribal energy development. Members have broken ground by meeting with key energy sector players to share best practices and discuss emerging markets and opportunities for innovative partnerships.

Tribal webinar to discuss today’s energy needs, yesterday’s grid

Western Area Power Administration, the U.S. DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, and the DOE Tribal Energy Program are offering a free, informative webinar and discussion May 30 on how utilities’ generation portfolios are changing, often faster than the grid infrastructure that supports it, and the challenges currently being faced to integrate new generation and demand (load) response technologies into a grid that was designed to operate a different way.

There is no charge to attend the webinar; however, you must register to participate.

Tribal utility managers and resource engineers will hear information on (1) key findings in the MIT Energy Initiative Report on the changes needed in the U.S. transmission grid to handle expected challenges such as the influx of electric cars and wind and solar generation and (2) the Western Grid Group’s Clean Energy Vision Project, which charts a sustained, orderly transition from the carbon intensive electricity system of today to a cleaner, smarter and healthier electricity system of the future.

The webinar is chaired by Jay Caspary, with Southwest Power Pool and on assignment to the DOE Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability. The two speakers are Dr. Richard Schmalensee and Dr. Carl Linvill.

Dr. Schmalensee is the Director of the MIT Center for Energy and Environmental Policy Research at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Dr. Schmalensee was co-chair of the recent MIT Energy Initiative report on The Future of the Electric Grid. Dr. Linvill is Director of Integrated Energy Analysis and Planning with Aspen Environmental Group and a member of the Western Grid Group. He is a major contributor to the Clean Energy Vision Project.

For more information on this and the other tribal webinars, visit http://www.repartners.org/#tribeseries.

Customers show interest in Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s wind power

Western received 20 customer responses to a request for interest in the purchase of renewable energy generated by the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe’s proposed 99-megawatt Tate Topa Wind Energy Project located on the tribe’s reservation.

The goal of the request, which closed May 11, was to get interested purchasers and the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe talking. “Because it was more about finding out who might be interested, not all 20 requests specified an amount of energy they were interested in purchasing,” explained Public Utilities Specialist Georganne Myers. “However, those that made specific requests totaled approximately 143,000 megawatt-hours annually for contract terms of between 10 and 20 years.”

Western helps explain transmission role at BLM Solar Workshop

Two Western employees participated in the Bureau of Land Management Solar Workshop in Las Vegas Nevada March 6-8, 2012.  BLM put on the workshop to provide information to Bureau of Indian Affairs on developing solar projects on Federal lands.  

These workshops include reviews of BLM environmental impact studies, BLM solar zones, and panels on lessons learned and project sponsor challenges. 

Western Operations Support Specialist John Steward provided an overview of transmission development processes with a focus on solar projects. “It was a great experience to speak at a workshop that provided me the opportunity to educate others on Western’s role as a transmission service provider and a facilitator for interconnections,” said Steward.

Transmission Infrastructure Program Senior Investment Officer Roman Fontes also participated in the BLM workshop. He served on a development panel with other Federal agencies and commercial developers discussing the standards and selection process used to screen projects for viability. “BLM solar workshops are an important forum for exchanging information with BLM, BIA, NREL and industry partners on key development tasks to realize solar projects,” said Fontes. “The panel discussed challenges and lessons learned for commercial developers and including commercial aspects of Purchase Power Agreements and Transmission Service Agreements, and bank and finance requirements.”

 Fontes also conducted a follow up session with BIA participants on commercial and finance structures, negotiations and lease and lease-back arrangements.

Western tribal customers awarded DOE funding for clean energy projects

The Department of Energy announced its next round of tribal energy development projects, Feb. 16.  Of the 19 clean energy projects chosen to receive more than $6.5 million, 10 involve Western tribal customers.

These DOE-selected projects will allow Native American tribes to advance clean energy within their communities by assessing local energy resources, developing renewable energy projects and deploying clean energy technologies. These projects will help tribal communities across the country save money and create new job and business opportunities.

The projects selected for negotiation of award fall into three areas:

  • Feasibility studies – Thirteen projects will receive $3.6 million to assess the technical and economic viability of developing renewable energy resources on tribal lands to generate utility-scale power or installing renewable energy systems to reduce energy use by 30 percent.For example, Western customer White Earth Reservation Tribal Council would use the funding to look at deploying a biogas/biomass-fired combined heat and power facility to generate 2.7 megawatts of electricity for tribal buildings, as well as for space and domestic water heating.
  • Renewable energy development – Four projects, including Western customer Jemez Pueblo’s project, will receive $1.7 million for pre-construction development activities.  Jemez Pueblo plans to use the funding to complete all remaining solar development activities for a 4-megawatt photovoltaic solar facility, which includes acquiring a power purchase agreement, completing site-related project requirements, such as site surveys and lease approval, and finalizing project financing.
  • Installation– Two projects will receive $1.3 million to deploy renewable energy technologies to convert waste and other biomass to energy. One of the two is another Jemez Pueblo project, where the tribe would install a cordwood-fired biomass energy system using locally available wood to heat the tribe’s visitor center. Once installed, the system will provide up to 90 percent of the facility’s heating needs.

See the DOE press release, the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, and the project descriptions.

Webinars provide opportunities

DOE and Western have taken a number of steps to support tribal energy development and empower tribal leaders to make informed decisions that promote community economic development.

Western has already held its fourth webinar in partnership with the DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs and the DOE Tribal Energy Program to promote tribal energy sufficiency. The next event will be March 28 where participants will learn more about interconnection and transmission service queues.

Western holds Tribal webinar on transmission policy

Western conducted an Unwinding Transmission Policies webinar for 30 Native American Tribes and other interested parties Feb. 29 to explain what transmission policy is, how it is established and who enforces it. FERC Order 1000 and its possible impact to transmission resources were also discussed.

Questions ranged from whether Western would be releasing a renewable request for proposals to very specific issues regarding FERC policy.

“[It] was a well-done presentation. I appreciated [the speaker]’s organized and thoughtful approach to such a complex topic,” said Jan Bush, an environmental planner at Transcon Environmental. “When the recorded presentation becomes available, I would like to share it with the environmental planning staff here at Transcon.

This is the fourth webinar Western has held in partnership with the DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs and the DOE Tribal Energy Program.

Check out more, including audio recordings and presentations, in Western’s press release.

Western Administrator speaks at local Tribal Leader Forum

Western Area Power Administrator Tim Meeks spoke in Denver, Colo., Feb. 7, at the Tribal Leader Forum “Exploring the Business Link Opportunity: Transmission and Clean Energy Development in the West.”

The forum, sponsored by the Department of Energy and the second in a series of events, provided an opportunity for tribal leaders to interact with industry and Federal leaders, get information about transmission development in the West and learn about the latest trends in financing clean energy projects.

Meeks focused his remarks on transmission expansion in the West and its impact on tribal land and shared, “When you look at our service area, we’re neighbors. We need this partnership, and we need to continue to work together.”

See the news release for more information.

Western works with Crow Creek Nation to repair structure

The initial topsoil removal and cutting back of the bank (notice the eroded area close to the structure footing), while Crow Creek Nation archaeological monitor looks on.

In May, floodwaters engulfed the Crow Creek Reservation located in central South Dakota, damaging several roads and struc­tures. Flash flooding eroded a ravine next to one of Western’s transmission towers located on private land within the reserva­tion boundary. The erosion endangered both the tower and the line’s operability and reliability near a 230-kilovolt steel transmission line. Had the bank caved to the edge of the footing, the tower would have begun to lean and could eventually have collapsed, cutting power to the customers who rely on the line. Western’s Upper Great Plains region employees, in cooperation with the Crow Creek Nation, worked to prevent its destruction.

Western’s Engineering and Maintenance employ­ees determined that the best way to fix the erosion problem was to use simple but effective Gabion baskets to stabilize the bank and divert water away from the structure. Gabion baskets are large wire baskets filled with rip-rap and connected together—in this instance, three tiers high— to divert the flow of water away from an eroding bank. Initially, the floor of the ravine was leveled in order for a track-hoe to cut back the bank for the placement of the baskets. Filter fabric that allows for the pas­sage of water, but not sediment, was layered between the baskets, and the soil from the excavated bank was then filled in behind the baskets. A layer of clay was then placed in the ravine in front of the baskets to prevent soil from eroding out from underneath.

The Crow Creek Nation, as stewards of the cultural resources within the reservation boundar­ies, felt that it was important to protect and preserve these sites. It’s also Western policy to preserve, protect and avoid disturbance to cultural resources whenever possible. For that reason, UGP developed several project alternatives to address the emer­gency situation without damaging the archaeological sites. Western was able to keep its construction “footprint” to a minimum, thereby reducing the amount of ground disturbance around the project area.

Field work began Nov. 2 and concluded within two weeks. Nice weather condi­tions helped the work progress quickly. Following completion of the project, Western restored the excavated bank and reintroduced the removed vegetation to the topsoil so that it has a chance to recover in spring.