Considerations for Tribal Governments

Tribes have the ability to set their own policies and zoning.  Tax credits are not useful to tribes as they do not file taxes.  Each tribe generally is structured such that they have a tribal constitution, laws or ordinances, and internal policies.  Zoning for tribal lands is determined by a Tribe's Council.  There may be further restrictions on tribal land if it is trust, restricted, or allotted land.  Tribes generally have a forest management plan, integrated resource management plan, and strategic plan.  Some tribes have developed land use plans.  The Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) Office of Trust Services has an inherent function to protect the interests of Tribal lands held in trust, restricted, or land that has been allotted to individual tribal members or tribe.  

All plans are approved by the Tribal Council of the Tribe.  The Tribe's Constitution outlines how a member of the Tribe can become a Tribal Council member.  The Constitution also outlines how land is to be managed.  Tribes cannot sell their land.  

More information can be found here.

Tribal Electric Utilities

Tribes currently operate utility programs for water and sewer. However, there is little to no experience with operation of an electric utility company.  There are programs operated by tribal governments that assist low income members with their utilities.  As such, tribes typically have access to information such as electric consumption, heat consumption, type of heat, and utility provider(s).  Tribes also develop special programs for their vulnerable populations including low income, elderly, and disabled members and provide for payment of utilities or home improvements for energy efficiency through their general fund.  

The general fund includes transfers from gaming and non-gaming enterprises and grants.  This general fund has to provide for governmental operations, along with the general welfare and safety of the tribal community and preservation of natural resources as outlined in the Tribal constitution.  As such, the funds need to go through a priority process and energy needs may not end up being top priority.  Thus, tribes becomes heavily reliant on pursuing grants to fund any initiatives associated with tribal utility planning or implementation.  

CVT RFP Considerations

Information coming soon. 

Tribal RFP Considerations

The Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act (ISDEAA) requires Tribes to provide preference in employment and contracting to Native Mexicans and Native American owned businesses.  In addition, many tribes develop their own Tribal employment Rights Ordinances (TEROs).  The majority of funding for gaming and non-gaming tribes is heavily reliant upon federal grants, contracts, and compacts.  As such, tribes must develop and follow purchasing and procurement policies at least as stringent as those within 2 CFR 200.  

Tribes can and usually do makes their standards more stringent to include lower thresholds of approval than the federal government would require and add in language within their policies to allow fir Native American preference in contracting.  The TERO allows for a percentage differential in the amount of the contract to be allowable for Native American owned businesses such that their prices can be higher than non native owned business and still be considered the lowest responsive and responsible bidder.

Tribal National Forest Entry Process

Risks, Barriers, Opportunities

Tribes can develop Memorandum of Understanding with National Forests for tribal members to harvest wood within their treaty area. Currently there are many types of agreements that tribes can join with their local National Forest, in order to collaboratively and actively help manage these treaty lands.

More information can be found here.

In addition, there are unique opportunities for tribal members to earn money from timber sales on their allotted lands. The timber sales go through the Bureau of Indian Affairs. The sale is divided into separate accounts with ten percent going into a forest management deduction account that is held in trust by the Office of the Special Trustee (OST) and the other ninety percent held in trust in a Proceeds of Labor account also held in trust by the OST. The timber sale is awarded to the highest bidder, and tribes often give preference to Native American loggers. Tribes can contract for many of the functions that are performed by the BIA. However, the forest inventory and sales are considered inherent functions of the BIA and are not contract-able. All harvesting of timber requires a permit if it is done on allotted or trust land. If a person cut a timber without a permit, they can be prosecuted and it a considered a felony.

Township/County Forest Entry, Risks, Barriers, Opportunities

More details coming soon. 


PACE stands for Property Assessed Clean Energy. As the name suggests, it allows commercial property owners in Michigan to finance energy efficiency, water efficiency, and renewable energy upgrades by entering into a voluntary special assessment with their local government as a way to pay back a private lender. The private lender provides the funding, and the local government creates the voluntary assessment, which becomes a lien on the property, to secure the loan. 

PACE holds tremendous promise to help owners of multi-family housing units, commercial, and industrial, and agricultural properties finance energy efficiency, water efficiency, and renewable projects throughout Michigan.

Michigan Saves

Learn about ways to transform your home or business through energy improvements. 

Michigan Saves 

Learn about renewable energy projects in rural communities around Michigan.