Tribal Nation: Intro to Utility Scale Planning
Tribal Nations typically do not have a specific employee dedicated to energy planning. Many of the employees of a tribe are funded through contracting or compacting or through a grant obtained by the federal government. The Bureau of Indian Affairs provides base funding for positions for Social Services, Higher Education, Indian Child Welfare, Natural Resources, Forestry, and Realty.
Tribes also have access to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding. As such, energy planning is an added duty to positions that are primarily focused in other areas. Tribes have utilities associated with their gaming enterprises, non-gaming enterprises, governmental offices, and tribal members. As part of a step in planning, tribes first have to compile all of their energy usage through the various utilities that provide service. Utilities are more often than not distributed amongst various departments and businesses and it can be a difficult task to compile all the information without a person dedicated to this activity. Prior to any planning for renewable energy, tribes need to work on energy efficiency for each building and provide this to their members.
There are some resources available to assist with this, especially for low-income members. However, it still requires education and outreach to the membership to let members know of the availability of such assistance. Feasibility studies for renewables also need to be addressed. Due to the multiple utility providers that tribes work with, this may vary from location to location.