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Proposing and leading energy projects is a complex process. Each project and local energy situation is unique. Oklahoma tribal energy leaders have an opportunity to explore the tribal energy project development and financing process hands-on at an interactive workshop being hosted by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Indian Energy on June 9–11 at the Riverwind Hotel and Casino in Norman, Oklahoma.

The first in a series of regional workshops the DOE Office of Indian Energy is hosting this summer with support from DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the Oklahoma Renewable Energy Project Development and Finance Workshop will walk participants through a five-step process for developing facility- and community-scale renewable energy projects on tribal lands. The workshop is designed exclusively for, and limited to, elected tribal leaders, tribal executives, and tribal staff.

The agenda includes three days of locally focused, highly interactive content presented by notable renewable energy experts from DOE and NREL, as well as other federal, state, and industry experts. The workshop will also include a welcome presentation from the new DOE Office of Indian Energy Director Chris Deschene, a member of the Navajo Nation.

Based on direct experience developing renewable energy projects in Indian Country, the workshop offers area Tribes a unique opportunity to learn from credible, objective experts in the field, gain hands-on experience using technology resource assessment tools, explore project case studies, discover how to tap into local and federal assistance, and hear about lessons learned from other Tribes.

The workshop will focus on facility- and community-scale projects. Facility-scale projects include single-building systems such as a school, hospital, or casino, where the primary goal of the project is to offset the building’s energy use and costs. Community-scale projects include systems of multiple buildings, such as a government administration complex or campus. The primary goals of these types of projects are to offset community energy costs and help a community become more energy self-sufficient.

“The curriculum was created around several practical learning objectives and is intended to be very engaging and interactive,” said NREL Project Leader Amy Hollander. “Participants will  gain an in-depth understanding of developing and financing community- and facility-scale renewable energy projects, be able to determine how the development of a renewable energy project  could further a Tribe’s goals, and learn from other tribal efforts in renewable energy project development.”

Case study presentations will include how the Chicksaw Nation used a DOE grant to upgrade lighting in 12 facilities resulting in $150,000 in savings, and an overview of Osage Nation's current energy initiatives and planning efforts for renewable energy projects, along with a discussion of stakeholders, current issues with renewable projects in Osage County, and how to expand the future vision to include renewables.

Tribes will also be instructed on how to implement a project themselves.

“Renewable energy development involves a series of complex steps. Spending time focused on each one of these steps and understanding how they must all come together to develop a successful project is critical. Workshop participants will be introduced to this renewable energy development process,” said Jason Coughlin, NREL presenter and technical lead.

Attendees will learn the five steps to developing and financing renewable energy projects on tribal lands, including how to:

  • Assess project potential
  • Determine technology options
  • Refine the project
  • Implement financing and construction
  • Plan for project operation and maintenance.

“The workshop also will introduce attendees to the technical and financial assistance available from DOE and other institutions, in order to help implement their projects,” added Coughlin.

There is no cost to attend the workshop, but attendees must register in advance by emailing tribalworkshops@nrel.gov or calling 303-275-3005.

Learn more.

The Office of Indian Energy is charged by Congress to direct, foster, coordinate, and implement 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.