Native American Technical Assistance and Training for Renewable Energy Resource Development and Electrical Generation Facilities Management Page: 4 of 34
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The experience, knowledge, and exposure of Tribes to renewable energy and
energy efficiency at the outset of the project period were generally lower than that
of comparable rural communities; because federal policy suppressed Tribal self
governance and the Indian Bureau with federal employees performed local
governmental functions, Tribes were not aware of the importance of energy to
economic and social development. Even Tribes whose conventional energy
resources had been developed, their own energy supply needs were not part of the
development objectives. The standard federal Indian energy lease relegated Tribal
resource owners to passive royalty interest owners with no role in the development
planning or in its operations. Energy whether as fuel or electricity was the domain
of the non-Indian world; it was not something Tribes or Indians did.
The challenge facing the DOE EE/RE Indian program was to change that
perceived reality and to inspire Tribes to take on the job of using their renewable
energy for their own energy futures; and, to use the methods and technologies of
modern energy management to reduce energy waste.
In the early years of the DOE EE/RE Indian Program of the handful of Tribes that
had secured grants, few were intimately involved in the projects. Tribes relied on
hired consultants to fulfill the work required of the grants. However, as a result of
the dedicated staff of the DOE EE/RE Indian Program and the CERT cooperative
agreement with support from several national laboratories, the awakening of Tribes
to the potential of developing their renewable energy resources to become largely
energy self reliant on the one hand, and using that resource development to build
more diversified sustainable local Tribal economies has begun.
In the years immediately preceding the DOE/CERT cooperative agreement, the
Bonneville and Western Power Administrations in response to the advocacy of
Mni Sose and the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians, two regional Tribal
organizations and CERT as the national Indian energy organization, began
including Tribes as preference customers eligible to buy "at cost" federal
The federal power allocation process required Tribes calculate their electric power
loads and make projections of electricity use growth as part of the process of
accessing federal power. This new information led them to realize that the systems
that supply the Tribes are being strained by Tribal population and economic
Indian Tribes began to see themselves in new ways with respect to their role in
electricity supply; the potential for becoming energy self-determining by using
their renewable energy in conjunction with federal hydropower. Tribes now view
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Lester, A. David. Native American Technical Assistance and Training for Renewable Energy Resource Development and Electrical Generation Facilities Management, report, October 17, 2008; United States. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc894214/m1/4/: accessed January 24, 2019), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.