WASHINGTON – At the White House Tribal Nations Conference today, the Energy Department announced two new initiatives aimed at driving increased energy production and sustainable economic development in Indian Country. As part of the Energy Department’s efforts to support Tribal renewable energy production, Energy Secretary Steven Chu issued a policy statement and guidance that gives preference to Indian tribes when its facilities contract to purchase renewable energy products or by products, based on authorities under the Energy Policy Act of 2005. The Energy Department also announced today new training and education resources to help America’s Tribal Nations advance local renewable energy project financing and development.

“Developing energy resources on our Tribal Lands continues to be an important part of the Obama Administration’s all-of-the-above strategy to deploy every available American resource,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “The development of these resources has – and will continue to be – important to many Tribes. By working together on important energy issues, we can grow our economies and create good jobs, while increasing our security and protecting the planet.”

The Energy Department’s Office of Indian Energy Policy and National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently issued an updated estimate of renewable energy potential on Indian lands. While American Indian land comprises about two percent of all U.S. land, this analysis found that Indian lands contain five percent of total U.S. renewable energy resource potential, including high generation potential for solar, wind and hydropower among other renewable resources.   

Renewable Energy Procurement Guidance for Energy Department Facilities

As part of the Energy Department’s efforts to cut red tape for Tribal energy development and meet its own sustainability goals, Secretary Chu has issued a policy statement and guidance to give preference to Indian tribes when the Department’s facilities contract to purchase renewable energy products or by products, including electricity, fuel sources and renewable energy certificates. Under this policy, Energy Department facilities can utilize this purchase preference when a Tribal nation holds a majority ownership position in a renewable energy project and the cost is no more than the prevailing market rate, pursuant to the Department’s authorities under the Energy Policy Act of 2005.

This procurement policy will help spur the development of untapped renewable energy resources on Indian lands near Energy Department facilities and help tribes capture the economic benefits of their own resources. Find more information on the purchase preference guidance HERE.

Tribal Energy Project Development Training and Education Resources 

Over the past two years, the Energy Department has led an Indian Country Energy & Infrastructure Working Group which provides expert advice on solutions to the energy challenges Tribal nations face and shares practical ideas and lessons learned on how the Department can work more effectively with America’s Tribes.

Informed by these conversations and listening sessions, the Department has developed a new renewable energy education and training program to make sure Tribal leaders and staff have the information and resources they need to advance community-scale and commercial project financing and development. These free courses will be available through regional workshops and the Department’s National Training & Education Resource at www.nterlearning.org.

The initiatives announced today support the Energy Department’s broader efforts to help Tribal communities, entrepreneurs and small businesses create jobs and build a sustainable energy future. Find more information on the Department’s efforts to support energy efficiency projects and energy development on Tribal lands at www.energy.gov/indianenergy.