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Tribe Breaks Ground on High-Voltage Substation

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A tribe will break ground on a new substation—a high-voltage electric system—in Standish, Michigan today.

The Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe has the ability to work at the federal level of the bulk energy supply (BES), otherwise known as the grid. The Tribe has been working with the Department of Energy (DOE) Indian Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), and they have verified that the Tribe can legally attach to the BES.

The substation is designed to meet the tribe's current needs, initially sized at 7MW. The Tribes current load is closer to 4MW, but the substation will have the ability to double in size to 14MW in order to care for the entire property's development needs in the area, while meeting requirements of the zoning map.

“This project is an act of us exerting our sovereignty in the marketplace of independence and self-reliance,” states Tribal Chief Steve Pego.

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The Tribe is also working with the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), Reliability First Corporation (RFC), and MISO and with their assistance the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe is registered as a Purchasing Selling Entity (PSE), and an e-node waiting for construction. This allows the Tribe to view current offerings for wholesale power as well as the ability to enter into agreements for the transport and sale of said power.

Running in parallel to the legal components CTC Engineering has been designing the substation and working with International Transmission Co. (ITC) and MISO for the physical connection to the BES line. The line that is going to be connected runs directly through the middle of Tribes Trust lands. The Tribe received a grant for a technical review from the DOE Indian Energy and the report concluded that the Tribe will save approximately 50 percent on energy costs, based on current node prices.

The substation ground breaking will follow the fall 2 percent distribution at the Saganing Tribal Center. The tribe makes semi-annual 2 percent distribution payments from Class III gaming funds at Soaring Eagle Casino & Resort and the Saganing Eagles Landing Casino.