Honoring our Tribal Partners on Indigenous Peoples Day (10/12/20)

Greetings Relatives,

It is more critical than ever to recognize and acknowledge the contributions of tribal communities to climate action and activism, and energy innovation and resilience, all the while facing disproportionate environmental and public health impacts of COVID-19. At GRID Alternatives, we are proud of our tribal partnerships and programs, which are led by tribal staff who are passionate about supporting tribal communities in the transition to a clean energy future. 

Our team is extremely proud of indigenous communities and leaders who have made solar photovoltaic (PV) and other renewable energy technologies a source of strength and resilience while providing cost-savings and awareness to their communities. Since 2010, GRID and the Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund have built relationships and provided solar to 60+ federally recognized tribes resulting in:

  • 7.3 MW of clean solar PV installations
  • Over 800 Native American families served
  • $48.8 million in lifetime energy savings
  • Eliminated 136,192 tons of greenhouse gas emissions
  • 1,820 Tribal members trained in solar installation

In addition, we have partnered with a variety of community leaders and training organizations – from local high schools to tribal colleges and universities – to provide students with hands-on solar training and connections to local solar companies; offer workshops and energy efficiency education to tribal members; and to introduce students to renewable energy and a potential long term career path. 

This year, as we observe Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we honor our tribal partners, job trainees, and volunteers—often on the front lines of climate change—for their innovation and leadership in transforming their communities through the benefits of renewable energy and for defending Mother Earth.

In a good way,

Adam Bad Wound (Oglala Lakota) Founder, Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund

Tanksi Clairmont (Sicangu Lakota/Sisseton Wahpeton Dakota) Director, Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund

Tim Willink (Navajo) Director, National Tribal Program

Tribes Expect Little Help in Fight to Protect Elders From Coronavirus

As tribes across the country take steps to fight the spread of the coronavirus, they’re doing so mindful that the virus has proven especially dangerous to the elderly, a venerated group in many Native communities.

Native Americans in Philanthropy

Native Americans in Philanthropy is committed to providing credible information and resources to help Native nonprofits, organizations, and communities navigate unprecedented times in response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19). 

COVID19 Resources for Indigenous Peoples

Hello relatives! During this difficult time, we wanted to put together some links for Indigenous folks north of the medicine line, specifically. We hope that you’re all staying safe; we will get through this like we always have. “

Protecting the Earth, Protecting Ourselves: Stories from Native America

March 9, 2020

“In sum, Native people have long held a worldview that connects human and community health to the health of land and the environment. It shapes and perpetuates Native identities, cultures, and worldviews. And, today, as concepts such as stewardship become more important to the sustainability of our entire planet, there is added value in listening to Native voices, who were environmentalists before environmentalism became popular”.

Solar Born of Fire

February 25, 2020

As Development Manager of the Spokane Indian Housing Authority, Clyde Abrahamson never thought his job would involve solar energy. But after the Cayuse Mountain Fire in 2016 destroyed 14 homes and tens of thousands of acres of Tribal land, the Spokane Tribe decided to invest in energy sovereignty and climate resilience – with solar power.

Clean Energy Employment Revitalizes the National Job Market

September 17th, 2019

The renewable energy industry is contributing to the U.S. job market in a substantial way, and getting the attention of state politicians who is encouraging the public to consider developing large scale solar arrays and wind turbines to benefit communities as a whole. The renewable energy industry grew 3.6% in 2018, amounting to 335,000 jobs, as compared to coal and fossil fuel’s 211,000 workers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics predicts by 2026 there will be a 105% growth in solar installers and a 96% growth in wind technicians. Coal plants nationwide have experienced closures in part by the nation’s coal consumption decreasing 4% in 2018. Currently, 74% of coal production facilities cost more to maintain operation than they are to replace those plants with cost efficient, solar or wind projects. All positions in clean energy production are widely available and do not require advanced college degrees. Entry level jobs like electricians, installers, maintenance, and power plant operators will see an 8% – 19% increase in annual income. Colorado, and several other states, are approving legislation that assists utility companies to retire unprofitable coal production while initiating economic alternatives. Investing in clean energy is smart and responsible for economic growth and job opportunities for the communities who need it most. 

Source: https://www.forbes.com/sites/energyinnovation/2019/04/22/renewable-energy-job-boom-creating-economic-opportunity-as-coal-industry-slumps/#3d8934403665

Central Minnesota Colleges Invest and Educate with Solar 

September 2nd, 2019

In central Minnesota, three energy companies named New Energy Equity, Region Five Development Commission, and Rural Renewable Energy Alliance collaborated to develop six solar photovoltaic systems for schools in the surrounding area. The solar projects were constructed on Central Lakes College campus along with the school districts of Pine River-Backus and Pequot Lakes. The schools anticipate all six projects will reduce carbon emissions by 1,420 metric tons of C02 over a 25 year period. The largest solar project, located at Pine River-Backus consisting of an 800 kW array, is planned to offset the district’s entire electrical energy usage by roughly 80%. The schools benefit from these projects by reducing their carbon footprint and will also be used as a teaching tool for the students. Each institution plans on educating their students by initiating programs centralized around how renewables make a substantial impact on the environment and local economy.

Source: https://www.renewableenergyworld.com/articles/2019/05/six-schools-in-minnesota-saving-money-boosting-education-with-solar.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+RenewableEnergyNewsRssFeed+%28REW+-+News+RSS+Feed%29

New Bill looks to grow the renewable energy industry

July 16th, 2019

In recent news, the Senate has passed legislation that would be a mechanism to ensure the climate goals of the Green New Deal are being achieved. The National Climate Bank Act would financially endorse the advancement of clean energy technologies while funding public and private investments in the renewable energy industry. The proposed funding would total $35 billion dollars and would seek to usher out the nation’s dependence on coal powered plants. Once the Senate enacts this legislation, it will prioritize investments in underserved communities and will address the global warming crisis. The concept of creating a national green bank was initiated by the Coalition for Green Capital (CGC), a non-profit organization focused on fostering the expansion of the clean energy market. CGC has been successful in implementing this concept on a local, state level and is a policy that has proven to counteract climate change, serve low-income communities, and improves an energy company’s equity.

Tribal Activism goes Solar

June 22, 2019

The upheaval caused by the Dakota Access Pipeline ignited the conversation as to how the indigenous community can combat big oil companies, at the same time preserve their ancestral lands. A council member by the name of Cody Two Bears, from the Cannon Ball community, initiated the idea of establishing an organization that would develop clean energy projects to counteract the Bakken oil boom. North Dakota experienced a surge in oil wells, up to 12,800 wells, that propelled the U.S. into the world’s leader in oil production and generated jobs near the surrounding communities. But as a by product of this process, it created environmental harmful methane which contradicts the Native American value of sustainability. Mr. Two Bears’s idea came into fruition when a 300 kW solar array was built three miles away from the controversial pipeline. Tribes are now turning to the renewable energy industry for solutions that uniquely address the issue of unemployment in Indian Country while also protecting the land and its natural resources.

TSAF collaborates with COSSI to bring Solar to Spokane

June 7th, 2019

The Spokane Tribe of Indians consider themselves descendants of the Interior Salish Group and over the years formed bands along the Spokane River. They are divided into three different bands the “Coeur d’Alene”, “Flathead”, and the “Colville”. In 2016, the Cayuse Mountain wildfire caused devastation to 18,000 acres of Spokane land and burned down 14 tribal homes, leaving some residents of the Spokane Indian Reservation without electricity. In order to obtain energy independence after the fire, the Spokane Tribe of Indians established The Children of the Sun Solar Initiative (COSSI), a program designed to bring solar powered energy to their ancestral lands. After the The Spokane Indian’s COSSI received funding, they turned to the Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund (TSAF). This grant program serves as an extension of Grid Alternatives’ National Tribal Program and will allow the Spokane Tribes to gain energy sovereignty, generate job opportunities, and reinforce community bonds by switching to solar. When finished, the 650 kW solar array will bring power to 23 community buildings, including administrative offices, homes, and a senior center. Supporting the community with solar electricity will reduce annual costs with the potential to save $2.8 million dollars over a 35 year period. Link to article: https://cleantechnica.com/2019/05/18/children-of-the-sun-solar-initiative-rises-out-of-devastating-fire/

Renewable energy surpasses coal for the first time.

May 13th, 2019

Breaking news from the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) reported for the first time ever that coal produced electricity has been surpassed by renewable energies as of April 2019. The national awareness for the long term benefits of renewable energies has grown substantially in the past five years and the shift from coal will be significantly noticeable by 2020. The renewable energies, that the IEEFA recognizes, include solar, hydroelectricity, biomass, wind, and geothermal. There are two major contributing factors for this huge shift in the energy industry, they can be attributed to an increase in hydroelectricity and the beginning of the slow season for coal. As spring approaches the green energy industry enters one of its higher producing seasons. For example, hydroelectricity begins to produce more in energy due to a plentiful winter with rivers raising from the winter snow melt. Secondly, as winter comes to an end and energy is gradually being less used, the coal factories close for their annually maintenance and repairs. The coal industry in its entirety has been experiencing a decline in usage in more recent years. It appears in 2014 coal was generating 39% of the nation’s energy and as of 2018 has dropped to 27%. Coal is undoubtedly facing an uphill battle as solar and wind are beginning to dominate the energy industry while coal hasn’t encountered a new plant in years. In the past decade, the cost to produce solar and wind has decreased tremendously with expectations for the trend to continue into the future.

The Navajo Nation agrees Solar Energy is the future.

May 6th, 2019

Tribal nations around the country are noticing the benefit of renewable energy. In the four corners region, the Navajo Nation recently passed “bill- No. 073-19” which assists the community to becoming less coal dependent and transition it’s efforts into using sustainable, renewable energy sources. The collective consensus agrees coal is not the future for the Dine people and are willing to risk the premature closing of the Navajo Generating Station (NGS) and Kayenta (Coal) Mine if need be. The closing of this prominent coal mine could happen as early as December of 2019. The time for the coal industry on Navajo land is soon to expire and it has been a long dividing issue for the Dine People. At its peak, the coal industry recorded as providing up to 50% of the Navajos economic revenue which developed communal tension by putting locals livelihood at risk when mentioning the closing of the environmentally harmful coal mines. As delegates and employees of coal mines mutually realize the era of the coal mining industry is coming to a close, it’s now time for the Navajo community to set its sights for the future. One suggestion encourages the transition from coal to solar could exist in setting up an investment fund between the Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribe. Setting aside roughly $20 million dollars for specifically Native operated companies that would find a new purpose for the NGS and Kayenta Mine which includes a stretch of railroads, road ways, and an airstrip. Once the mining lands are restored it can be used to serve anything from installing a large, photovoltaic power stations, that will energize parts of the community, to supporting any indigenous based business that would involve itself with reclaiming the land for solar, tourism, manufacturing, and anything retail trade related. This has the potential to be a pivotal step in community alliance and growth through compromise when an intensely, debated issue does not have to cost the livelihood of the environment and half its community members.

From all of us on the TSAF team, we look forward to engaging and working with you, Indian Country’s energy innovators and leaders, as we continue to grow the opportunities for renewable energy in tribal communities.

Happy TSAF Application Week!

Dear TSAF applicants,

April 30, 2019

Thank you for your time, energy (pun intended :-)), and ideas that you have worked on so diligently in your TSAF application! We know Indian Country have always been innovative, resilient, and prosperous when it comes to cultural preservation and self-determination, and your proposed solar project will continue to strengthen and preserve your tribal communities land, water, and life.

Since the release of the RFP and applications, we have received a handful of great questions which were answered on the FAQ page, so please refer to the TSAF FAQ’s for further insight on topics such as; letters of support/tribal resolutions, allowable expenses, definition of “shovel ready projects,” and more under each TSAF funding priority area!

We look forward to receiving your application on Friday May 3rd by 5:00 p.m. MST! Submission guidelines are in the RFP and application, but as a reminder, please limit your proposal narrative section to 10 pages, and please use the Word document form instead of the PDF form (text wrapping issues in the PDF) for the organization information section, also please combine all sections and attachments into ONE PDF document and name your application as follows: “2019 TSAF <matching funds or tribal solar funding Application – <tribe>”.

Have a wonderful week!

Tanksi Clairmont

Watch the TSAF webinar recording

March 20, 2019

The TSAF hosted a webinar on Friday March 15 to provide prospective applicants with a deeper understanding of GRID Alternatives’ work in tribal communities, how the TSAF came to fruition, and how it will support tribal communities toward their energy sovereignty goals. We also discussed details about the application process, including the mission and vision of the Fund, required documents, and FAQs.

We are pleased with the webinar attendance and hope that it provided a good amount of background information to help your tribe/tribal organization decide if TSAF is the right pot of funding for your solar projects. The TSAF webinar was recorded and is now posted to the tribalsolar.org website, so please listen in at your convenience.

Thank you for your continued interest in the TSAF. Our team is always open to questions and feedback, so do not hesitate to contact us at contact@tribalsolar.org.


March 4, 2019

Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund Director, Tanksi Clairmont (left), and Founder, Adam Bad Wound (right).

Greetings, friends! Welcome to the Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund.

We are a small, tribal-led staff committed to serving, supporting, and strengthening American Indian/Alaska Native tribal communities by investing in solar energy development and sustainability through grantmaking, building relationships in Indian Country, and connecting with the solar industry.

It is an exciting time for our team, organization, and partners as we launch the 2019 TSAF funding application cycle. The TSAF will provide capital to support solar demonstration projects, solar education, training, and workforce development in tribal communities around the country. If your tribe or tribal organization is looking to strengthen an existing solar energy plan or further tribal energy security, resilience and energy sovereignty through new solar projects, please check out the TSAF RFP and funding areas. You’re also invited to join us for a webinar on March 15 to learn more about our vision, funding areas, and application process.