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Energy Department to Host Tribal Leader Forum and Tribal Renewable Energy Development Workshop in New Mexico

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Indian Energy is hosting two back-to-back events July 27–29, 2015, at the Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico: a Tribal Leader Forum on forming tribal utilities and an interactive workshop on developing community-scale renewable energy projects on tribal lands. 

The Tribal Leader Forum on July 27 will focus on the tribal utility as a structure for long-term economic growth and meeting the energy needs of tribal communities. The forum will give tribal leaders and staff an opportunity to interact with other Tribes, federal agencies, and experts in the energy industry and learn more about tribal utility formation and regulation. 

The one-day meeting will open with a welcome presentation from new DOE Office of Indian Energy Director Chris Deschene, a member of the Navajo Nation, and will include a blend of informative sessions and interactive roundtables that will bring beginners and experienced practitioners together for a national dialogue of fundamentals and best practices for tribal utilities.

Forum objectives include:

  • Exploring the fundamental opportunities and challenges involved in capturing the benefits of tribal energy from the perspective of tribal utilities
  • Fostering a better understanding of the role, function, and power of the tribal utility in achieving tribal policies
  • Establishing an ongoing dialogue among tribal leaders to help shape the future of tribal energy and tribal utilities.

The forum will be followed by a two-day workshop focused on a proven five-step process for developing and community- and facility-scale renewable energy projects on tribal lands on July 28 and 29.

One in a series of regional workshops the DOE Office of Indian Energy is hosting this summer with support from DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the New Mexico workshop is designed exclusively for, and limited to, elected tribal leaders, tribal executives, and tribal staff.

The agenda includes two days of locally focused, highly interactive content presented by notable renewable energy experts from DOE, NREL, and other federal, state, and industry agencies and organizations.  The workshop is designed to help participants become comfortable discussing renewable energy project development possibilities with project developers and project financing options with potential investors. In addition, the workshop will help clarify tribal roles in renewable energy project development while walking participants through the five-step project development and financing process.

Based on direct experience developing renewable energy projects in Indian Country, the workshop offers tribal leaders and staff a unique opportunity to learn from credible, objective experts in the field, gain hands-on experience using technology resource assessment tools, explore project case studies, discover how to tap into local and federal assistance, and hear about lessons learned from other Tribes.

“Renewable energy development involves a series of complex steps. Spending time focused on each one of these steps and understanding how they must all come together to develop a successful project is critical. Workshop participants will gain valuable experience and familiarity with the renewable energy development process,” said Jason Coughlin, NREL presenter and technical lead.

As they work through a dynamic new curriculum DOE and NREL developed to familiarize Tribes with the five-step tribal energy project development process, workshop attendees will learn how to:

  • Assess project potential
  • Identify technology options
  • Refine the project and mitigate risk
  • Execute financing agreements and begin construction
  • Plan for project operation and maintenance.

“The workshop also will introduce attendees to the technical and financial assistance available from DOE and other institutions to help implement tribal projects,” added Coughlin.

There is no cost to attend the workshop, but space is limited and attendees must register in advance by emailing or calling 303-275-3005. Participants are responsible for their own lodging, dinner, and travel costs. Coffee, a light breakfast, lunch, and an afternoon snack will be provided.

Learn more.

The Office of Indian Energy is charged by Congress to direct, foster, coordinate, and implement energy planning, education, management, and programs that assist Tribes with energy development, capacity building, energy infrastructure, energy costs, and electrification of Indian lands and homes.