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Energy Department Issues Guidelines and New Resources to Help Tribes Advance Renewable Energy Projects

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At the White House Tribal Nations Conference on December 5, the Energy Department announced two new initiatives aimed at driving increased energy production and sustainable economic development in Indian country.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu issued a policy statement and guidance that gives preference to tribes when its facilities contract to purchase renewable energy products or by products, including electricity, fuel sources and renewable energy certificates.

This purchase preference applies to tribes that hold a majority ownership position in a renewable energy project and the cost is not more than the prevailing market rate, based on authorities under the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The policy is intended to spur the development of untapped renewable energy resources on Indian lands near Energy Department facilities and help tribes capture the economic benefits of their own resources.

A recently updated analysis by the Department’s Office of Indian Energy Policy and National Renewable Energy Laboratory found Indian lands comprise just 2 percent of the country but they contain 5 percent of the total U.S. renewable energy resource potential, including solar, wind and hydropower, among other renewable resources. ??

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Also at the Tribal Nations Conference, the Energy Department announced new training and education resources to help tribes advance local renewable energy project financing and development.

“Developing energy resources on our tribal lands continues to be an important part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above strategy to deploy every available American resource,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “The development of these resources has—and will continue to be—important to many tribes. By working together on important energy issues, we can grow our economies and create good jobs, while increasing our security and protecting the planet.”

Based on information gleamed from conversations through the Energy Department’s Indian Country Energy & Infrastructure Working Group over the past two years about solutions to the energy challenges faced by tribal nations, the Department has created a new renewable energy education and training program. It ensures tribal leaders and staff have all the resources they need to obtain financing for the development of community-scale and commercial projects.

These free courses will be available through regional workshops and the Department’s National Training & Education Resource at

Find more information on the Department’s efforts to support energy efficiency projects and energy development on Tribal lands at