Energy Department officials meet with Tribal leaders at the "Exploring the Business Link Opportunity: Transmission & Clean Energy Development in the West” forum held in Denver, CO. | Courtesy of NREL.

Last week, top tribal leaders, industry and tribal executives, and federal representatives came together for the Energy Department’s Office of Indian Energy forum on “Exploring the Business Link Opportunity: Transmission & Clean Energy Development in the West” held in Denver, Colorado.

I was very pleased with the quality of participation and strategic interactions we had for this forum, the second in a series of Tribal Leader Forums we are hosting around the country to engage Indian Country and energy industry leaders in a dialogue on the next generation of tribal energy development.  Last year, my office hosted eight roundtable sessions with tribal leaders, who encouraged increased sharing best practices and participation in more face-to-face conversations around tribal energy.  

Transmission issues have been an important  topic of conversation for Tribes as they work to resolve siting and rights of way challenges. This forum presented an exciting opportunity to integrate these issues into a broader dialogue on tribal energy interests.

At the forum, Tribes shared their interest in developing larger clean energy projects in the Western United States, supported by the Department’s work with tribal community scale initiatives and taking advantage of energy corridors running right through Indian Country. Given all these converging factors, it is a very opportune time to explore the nexus of business opportunities for this next generation of Indian energy.

Representatives from numerous organizations presented at the event, including the Energy Department, Department of the Interior, Western Area Power Administration, Bonneville Power Administration, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Xcel Energy and Western Electricity Coordinating Council.  The forum discussed regional transmission planning, transmission policies and regulation, new transmission and storage technologies, renewable energy standards, federal purchasing opportunities and financing. Pilar Thomas, deputy director of Indian energy at the Department, briefed the group on the status of the Energy Department’s tribal renewable energy purchase preference guidance initiative. Three Tribes also presented case studies and best practices on inter-tribal commercial partnerships, inter-tribal transmission companies and successful interconnection projects.

Continuing this series, next month we’ll be hosting a Tribal Conventional Energy Forum in conjunction with the Reservation Economic Summit in Las Vegas.

Check out more about this and other Office of Indian Energy education and training opportunities at