WASHINGTON – As part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to help Tribal communities across the country enhance their energy security and build a sustainable energy future, the Energy Department and the Denali Commission today announced that five Alaska Native communities will receive technical expertise through the Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START) program. Building on five technical assistance awards made last year, the projects selected today will further accelerate local clean energy and energy efficiency projects that advance energy self-sufficiency and job creation in rural Alaska.

“Through the START program, we are helping Native American and Alaska Native communities increase local generation capacity, enhance energy efficiency measures and create job opportunities in the new clean energy economy,” said Tracey A. LeBeau, director of Energy Department’s Office of Indian Energy. “The technical assistance awards for clean energy tribal projects announced today will help advance sustainable rural resources, while addressing the unique energy challenges facing Alaskan communities.”

The Energy Department’s START program, in partnership with Denali Commission and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, provides technical expertise on a variety of clean energy and efficiency technologies, infrastructure development and community capacity building to tribal communities across the United States.

“We’re proud to partner again with the Department of Energy through the START initiative to move projects in rural Alaska closer to implementation,” said Joel Neimeyer, federal co-chair, Denali Commission. “We’ve gained momentum with the first round and will continue to make positive and lasting impacts on the communities we work with.” 

Through the START awards made today, each Alaska Native tribe will receive technical assistance focused on community-based energy planning, energy awareness and training programs, and clean energy deployment and financing opportunities. Additionally, each village selected this year is eligible for up to $250,000 in financial assistance to deploy a renewable energy or energy efficiency project, supported by the Department’s Tribal Energy grant program.

The following Alaska Native entities were selected for the 2013 START Program and will receive technical assistance over the next six to nine months:

  • Native Village of Kongiganak will receive assistance to strengthen existing wind energy infrastructure, efficiency measures, and smart grid technology development.
  • Native Village of Koyukuk will receive assistance with upgrades to its energy infrastructure and identification of energy efficiency and biomass opportunities.
  • Native Village of Minto will receive assistance to identify energy efficiency, biomass, and solar energy opportunities.
  • Native Village of Shishmaref will receive assistance with efforts to build capacity and increase sustainability within the village to mitigate current energy and community relocation challenges.
  • Yakutat T’lingit Tribe will receive assistance with prioritizing renewable energy projects, evaluating feasibility studies, fostering community support, and identifying next steps to move projects forward, including biomass, ocean energy, and efficiency measures.

The Energy Department’s Office of Indian Energy directs, fosters, coordinates and implements 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.

The Denali Commission is an independent federal agency designed to provide critical utilities, infrastructure and economic support throughout Alaska. With the creation of the Denali Commission in 1998, Congress acknowledged the need for increased inter-agency cooperation and focus on Alaska’s remote communities.