Wind Power from the Reservation

Boy, it’s good to be back on the blog. As always, the first week of class was both encouraging and frustrating: it’s always fun to meet with new groups of students (and they look like really good groups), but it’s also a challenge to deal with scheduling issues, missing students, double-booked classrooms, etc. Now that my class schedule is set and I’ve met with them a couple of times, the initial anxiety (which is always there) has calmed, and I can get back to working sustainablog into the normal schedule.

I felt a bit overwhelmed as I checked my feeds — I’ve been checking in this week, but there’s always a pile of new items when I take a few days off. One that caught my eye was this article from Indian Country which details the efforst of NativeEnergy, a tribal enterprise “that has spearheaded the most intriguing and potentially impactful energy project in Indian country. For one thing, it has united over a dozen Great Plains tribes… in the ‘historic effort to power America with Native wind and fight global warming.” NativeEnergy’s focus is wind power and green tags:

Intertribal COUP is a nonprofit council of federally recognized Indian tribes from North Dakota (Mandan, Arikara and Hidatsa, and part of Standing Rock and Sisseton-Wahpeton), and South Dakota (Cheyenne River, Flandreau Santee, Lower Brule, Oglala, Rosebud, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, Spirit Lake Tribe and Standing Rock), and the Omaha Nation of Nebraska and Iowa. Chartered and headquartered on the Rosebud Sioux Reservation, it has operated since 1994 to provide a tribal forum for policy issues in energy utility operations and services and telecommunications.

NativeEnergy has been a leading national marketer of Renewable Energy Credits and greenhouse gas offsets. It has worked to help tribal and rural communities develop their own sustainable economies based on the generation of clean, renewable energy. Now, on behalf of its member tribes, COUP has closed the ownership circle by purchasing a majority interest in the energy marketing company.

The new, Native-owned business marks a milestone in the movement that COUP has led, providing direct access to the retail market for the energy the inter-tribal council will ultimately produce. A major initial strategic goal of the purchase is to help develop an 80-megawatt distributed-wind project, hosted in 10 MW (10,000 kilowatt hours) ”clusters” at eight different COUP reservations. The wind farms will provide clean energy to fuel more than 23,000 homes and also create jobs. The sale of electricity and Renewable Energy Credits will generate additional revenues for the tribes.

Since Plains reservations happen to be located in states with large wind capacity, this seems like a natural step forward. Hopefully, the example set by NativeEnergy will further demonstrate the business potential of renewable energy development. Be sure to take a look at the pictures of the Rosebud Turbine.

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