U.S. Department of Energy



A. David Lester

Date of this Version



DOE/CERT Cooperative Agreement has demonstrated that Indian Tribes are ready to undertake the positive steps in developing their internal governmental capacities in program planning and project development as well as the enterprise management capability to undertake the development of their substantial natural base of renewable energy resources and to learn the basic technologies in wind, solar, bio-mass and alternative energy production. The project also demonstrated that virtually every Indian Tribe and community in the United States would benefit socially, economically and in public health values thru a sustained federally coordinated Tribal energy efficiency initiative; and, that a small amount of seed money along with supportive technical assistance would yield continuing benefits for years to come. The project demonstrated that there is great synergism when federal agencies work with national and regional Tribal organizations in leveraging each other’s strengths and resources toward common goals. The project demonstrated that the private sector American renewable energy industry is also ready to work in coordination with Tribes and federal agencies as partners in both renewable energy development and in bringing energy efficiency capacity to Tribal communities and in transferring technological skills and knowledge to Tribes. The project also documented the fact a federal program working with a Tribal organization can reach Tribes so that individual Tribes do not have to work in isolation; each discovering and overcoming the same problems over and over again. Thru the project Tribes and DOE have indentified and documented the barriers that up to date are blocking the development of world class, Tribally owned, wind and solar resources. Among these barriers are: 1) The need for investment in Tribal institutional capacity that can provide a foundation for the long term resource assessments, project planning and development and provide a portal thru which access to technical, financial and markets can be linked; 2) Federal tax policy creates disincentives for private capital to flow to Tribally controlled development whether for necessary physical infrastructure such as roads that access the Tribal resource zones or for the financing for the construction and installation of the renewable energy technology; 3) Tax credits and bonding that provide stimulus for development in the general American economy do not work because of the special status of Indian lands and Tribal governments; special statutory and regulatory provisions are needed if Tribally developed Indian renewable energy potential is to be integrated into the American energy markets; and, 4) The old models for Tribal natural resource development is outdated and obsolete in the modern era of Indian self determination and Tribal self governed economic development making reform a high national priority for Indian Tribal leadership. By identifying and documenting the potential future clean energy supply that America could benefit from when Indian renewable energy is developed; coupled with the identification of the major barriers to successful, Tribal development of Indian resources provides the public with a clear path to removing the barriers and securing the benefits of clean, green Indian energy.