On June 20, Tracey A. LeBeau, Cheyenne River Sioux, director of the Office of Indian Energy Policy & Programs, announced the addition of three Tribes to the Department of Energy's (DOE) Indian Country Energy & Infrastructure Working Group (ICEIWG) on Energy.gov. The working group was created to unite American Indian and Alaska Native Tribes from across the country to address the biggest challenges facing their communities in terms of energy development. It launched in May 2011 and is now comprised of representatives from eight Tribes.
The new Tribal team members are the Ho-Chunk Nation of Wisconsin, Crow Tribe of Montana and Tlingit and Haida Tribes of Alaska. Together the representatives from the eight Tribes will interact with key players in the energy sector—such as utility operators, plant owners, private energy developers and public sector officials—to share best practices and discuss emerging markets and opportunities for innovative public-private partnerships, LeBeau said in the blog "Tackling Energy Problems for America's Tribal Nations."
The addition of three tribes to the working group builds on the excitement surrounding the announcement of the Energy Department's initiative to accelerate clean energy project development in Indian Country: the Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START) Program. Through START, the Office of Indian Energy is working with community-based teams to help implement clean energy projects, such as energy storage infrastructure, renewable energy deployment and energy efficiency.
For the tribal communities who applied for and were chosen to receive assistance in launching renewable energy projects, START technical assistance experts will work directly with their communities to evaluate project financial and technical feasibility, provide on-going training and help implement initiatives that save money by saving energy.
Among the 48 contiguous states to receive assistance through the START Program are: the Campo Band of Campo Band of the Kumeyaay Nationin Campo, California; Forest County Potawatomi Tribe in Crandon, Wisconsin; Hualapai Tribe of Peach Springs, Arizona; Pascua Yaqui Tribe in Tucson, Arizona; Passamaquoddy Tribe of Indian Township in Pleasant Point, Maine; and the Pueblo of Zuni in Zuni, New Mexico.
The Alaska START initiative is assisting in the development of tribal energy planning for Alaska Native Entities, including: the Arctic Village Council, Native Village of Kwinhagak/Quinhagak, Native Village of Teller, Organized Village of Kake and Venetie Village Council.