Secretary Chu and Office of Indian Energy Director Tracey LeBeau meet with Wisconsin tribal leaders in Milwaukee, WI. | Photo courtesy of Mark Appleton.

Last week, I had the honor to join Secretary Steven Chu for a roundtable discussion with Tribal leaders at the forefront of clean energy efforts in Indian Country. In Milwaukee, we met with government and corporate leaders from three Wisconsin Tribes -- Forest County Potawatomi Nation, Oneida Nation, and Ho-Chunk Nation. Forest County Potawatomi and Oneida have both received grant and technical assistance awards from the Energy Department while Ho-Chunk is the newest member of our new Indian Energy Working Group.  

It was a pleasure to speak directly with these forward-thinking tribal leaders who are committed to a clean energy future and economy. I was inspired by their innovative leadership in deploying new technologies. They also shared practical ideas and lessons learned on how we can work more effectively with America’s Tribes.

After our discussions, the Forest County Potawatomi delegation gave me and Deputy Director Pilar Thomas a walking tour of the tribe’s historic buildings and parking facilities. With investments from the Energy Department, the Forest County Potawatomi Nation has conducted energy efficiency upgrades and installed clean, renewable energy generation projects at these facilities, helping the tribe advance a sustainable energy future for its community. They also shared with us their future plans to continue this excellent work and the strategic windows of opportunity that this work has already created for their tribal businesses.

Under the leadership of Forest County Potawatomi Chairman Gus Frank, who was named a White House “Champion of Change,” as well as the Potawatomi government and tribal executive leadership, the Nation has become a true leader in energy efficiency in Indian Country. They have already done a great deal around facility-scale improvements and have set out a clear vision of sustainable energy for themselves and their community. This strong commitment was an important factor in our selection of Forest County as one of eleven Tribes recently awarded on-the-ground technical support for community-based energy projects through our Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START) Program.

Building off our partnership with these tribes, we are pleased to announce today that the Forest County Potawatomi will host an upcoming Energy Department workshop, “Renewable Energy & Efficiency for Tribal Community Development,” from August 7-9.

A more detailed agenda will be posted on in the coming days. In the meantime, we encourage those interested in attending to check out more information on our Tribal Energy Program web page.