Over the last week, the Federal government took multiple steps to bring energy advancements to tribal lands.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
A major milestone for the TransWest Express Transmission Project was reached Friday as the Western Area Power Administration and TransWest Express LLC announced an agreement to fund the project’s $50 million development phase.
The TWE Project development phase will determine the feasibility of constructing and operating a 725-mile, 600-kilovolt, direct current transmission line that would facilitate renewable energy delivery from Wyoming to the southwestern United States. The project would interconnect with the existing transmission grid near Rawlins, Wyo., and the Marketplace Hub, near Las Vegas, Nev.
Western’s Transmission Infrastructure Program will use its U.S. Treasury borrowing authority under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act amendement to the Hoover Power Plant Act of 1984 to fund 50 percent of the development phase. TWE , LLC will fund the other $25 million.
The press release in its entirety can be read in Western’s online Newsroom.
As a Federal agency, Western is responsible for submitting a budget request to Congress (after its budget is reviewed and approved by the Department of Energy and the Office of Business Management).
Western Administrator Tim Meeks joined the administrators of Bonneville, Southeastern and Southwestern power administrations in testifying about the proposed fiscal year 2012 budget before the Subcommittee on Water and Power of the House Natural Resources Committee on March 15. In addition to submitting written testimony (61kb pdf), Meeks briefed the committee members on Western’s accomplishments and responded to questions from the committee. Watch a recording of the hearing.
While Congressional appropriations accounts for only about 10 percent of Western’s overall funding needs, it is an important piece to keeping the lights on throughout the West. These appropriations, coupled with customer funding, revolving funds and power sale receipts ensure Western can fund the operation, maintenance and on-going rehabilitation needed to ensure our Federal transmission system is reliably delivering power to customers throughout the West.