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Dept. of Energy awards Quinault Indian Nation project funding

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded $12 million in funding to help 13 American Indian and Alaska Native communities finish projects that will reduce energy costs and increase energy security and resiliency.

The funded projects will result in nearly 3.5 megawatts of clean energy generation, and more than 3.5 megawatt-hours of battery storage, serving more than 1,300 tribal buildings and saving communities $1.8 million each year, according to a press release.  

Wahleah Johns is the senior advisor for the U.S. Department of Energy – Office of Indian Energy which provides financial and technical assistance to Tribes. Over the past decade her office has offered funding for shovel-ready projects. 

Many of this year’s funding recipients are focused on climate resiliency, micro-grids, battery storage and energy efficiency. Energy resiliency projects are especially important for Tribes, many of which have been watching the climate change for decades, Johns said. 

“They have been seeing the impacts for many years now. Tribes have a deep rooted connection to their ancestral homelands, and I think with the escalation of fires and the heat waves, drought, and more moisture somewhere and less moisture somewhere, I think these are the changes that we’re all experiencing now.” 

Many of the projects on the list will be used to offset expensive power costs, especially in rural areas.

The Quinault Indian Nation on the Washington state coast received $201,044 to install a 99-kW solar system, battery storage, and a back-up diesel generator for a new 30,000 sq ft community facility. With tsunamis and climate change presenting more safety risks, the Quinault Indian Nation has had to move Taholah Village to higher ground.  

“It’s a project that we would like to see federal funds invested into,” Johns said. “Something that is going to help support the strengthening in their community, and we hope this will build their internal capacity.” 

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