On January 19th U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced a new initiative to promote tribal renewable energy development. According to the DOE’s announcement, up to $10 million will be made available through DOE’s Tribal Energy Program to support, among other things, renewable energy projects on tribal lands.
In many ways, tribal nations are well positioned to move forward with renewable energy projects that provide energy for their use as well as sale to off-nation consumers. These projects also can provide much-needed economic development opportunities for tribal nations. Whether it is available land to support closed-loop biomass projects, proximity to market, or the availability of other federal programs that encourage economic development or tribal lands, tribal nations can play an important role in expanding a sustainable renewable energy portfolio in the U.S.
A number of tribal nations have identified renewable energy as a viable, long-term economic growth opportunity. The just-announced DOE funding, in combination with other federal programs, may help create a viable renewable energy program for a number of tribal nations across the country, and help them grow and diversify their economy.