WASHINGTON, D.C. – As part of the Obama Administration’s commitments to reducing America’s reliance on imported oil and protecting our nation’s air and water, the U.S. Energy Department and the Denali Commission announced today that five Alaska Native Tribes have been selected to receive technical assistance to accelerate clean energy project development and advance energy self-sufficiency and job creation in these communities. The Energy Department and the Commission also announced a partnership to pursue collaborative clean energy projects in rural Alaska.

“We are excited to join with the Denali Commission to leverage our shared technical resources and expertise and help Alaska Native communities across the state strengthen their energy security and build a sustainable energy future,” said Tracey LeBeau, director of the Department’s Office of Indian Energy. “The technical assistance awards for clean energy tribal projects announced today will help strengthen the economic competitiveness of Alaska Native tribes, creating jobs and reducing dependence on foreign oil.”

Through the Energy Department’s Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START) Program, the five Alaska Native communities selected today for technical assistance will conduct community-based planning and training and implement a variety of clean energy projects, including energy storage infrastructure, renewable energy deployment and housing energy efficiency.

“The announced partnership between the Commission and DOE is just one part of the story.  The five communities selected all asked to participate in the START program.  Community improvements from energy to housing, health care, education, or any other community need must first come from an engaged community that wishes to find local solutions to local problems,” said Joel Neimeyer, federal co-chair of the Denali Commission.  “The staff of the Commission looks forward to working with the five communities and DOE on the START program.”

In support of the Alaska START Program, the Energy Department and the Denali Commission also announced today a joint partnership, leveraging the best practices, tools and expertise of each organization to promote economic growth in the area. Respectful of the unique energy challenges facing Alaskan communities, the START program provides a comprehensive approach to reducing the cost and price of energy, while increasing clean energy deployment and financing opportunities for tribal communities and local utilities.

Through START, Department of Energy and National Laboratory experts will work directly with community-based teams to evaluate project financial and technical feasibility, provide on-going training to community members and help implement initiatives which save money by saving energy.

The following communities were selected to receive Alaska START technical assistance over the next 6 months:

  • Arctic Village Council will receive assistance to help improve diesel powerhouse operations; reinstate Power Cost Equalization (PCE) – a longstanding State of Alaska electrical subsidy program for low income households; install pre-pay meters for residential buildings; repair existing photovoltaic (PV) systems; and explore feasibility of community-scale solar energy generation.
  • Native Village of Kwinhagak/Quinhagak will receive assistance to help develop a community energy plan; increase residential energy efficiency; implement a heat recovery project for the community sewer and water facility; improve energy efficiency in new residential housing; produce a wind-to-heat analysis; and prepare for additional funding opportunities. 
  • Native Village of Teller will receive assistance to help address the community’s long-term bulk fuel storage capacity needs; identify opportunities to increase residential energy efficiency, including education and training; implement retrofits and repairs for public facilities; and prepare for additional funding opportunities.
  • Organized Village of Kake will receive assistance to help develop a community energy plan; relocating a wind met-tower closer to the village; conduct biomass and hydro generation feasibility studies; installing a PV system; identify bulk diesel improvements; and initiate residential energy efficiency activities. 
  • Venetie Village Council will receive assistance to help develop a community energy plan; repairing public utility generation infrastructure; reinstate PCE; develop utility rate structure; conduct a community-scale PV program as well as a biomass feasibility study and project design review.

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, 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.