Project Officer Brings Wealth of Expertise to Administering Tribal Energy Grants
The team of federal employees supporting the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs is small but mighty. In this “Meet Our Team” blog post series, we introduce key staff dedicated to the Office and its mission to support tribes in pursuing their energy visions.
Tweedie Doe is a Project Officer with the Office of Indian Energy. She administers financial assistance awards to Indian tribes, Alaska Native villages, and tribal and inter-tribal organizations, helping make their energy project goals a reality.
Before joining the Office of Indian Energy, Tweedie served for eight years with the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) as a Project Officer and as a Program Management Analyst. She brings a wealth of expertise in federal project and program management to her role with the Office of Indian Energy.
Read on to learn more about Tweedie and what motivates her impactful work in the Office of Indian Energy.
What do you do in your role as Project Officer for the Office of Indian Energy?
I get to work directly with tribes on their energy projects that are financially supported by our Office. My aim is to help our grant recipients navigate federal systems, processes, and regulations to reach their individual goals. I synthesize many contracting and program requirements and help develop guides and templates for our staff and tribal staff to adhere to the high standards set by our Office and the Tribes. There are great opportunities in working with a small, nimble organization to learn and contribute to program development and management.
What do you find most inspiring or motivating about your work for the Office of Indian Energy?
It’s amazing what our little office achieves. During our annual Program Review, all our grant recipients come together to talk about their communities and their projects, and they remind me that our individual efforts united have made a beautiful ripple effect. I am proud to be a part of our smart and dedicated team. Each person on our team amazes me with their talents and commitment to our mission to improve the standard of living for tribal members and the health of their communities. I get to be a part of our DOE team and grant recipients’ work to improve the quality and reliability of energy while making energy affordable and common in tribal members’ homes. The drive I see in each person motivates me to do my part.
What do you see as the greatest challenges and opportunities in tribal energy development today?
When I worked at the Council of Energy Resource Tribes, our late Director David Lester would often say, “If you know one tribe, you know one tribe.” When I thought I had learned so much about the tribes, David would remind me of how much more there was to understand. And now, David might say that there are at least 574 different lessons on Native American Indian tribes. Listening and understanding what the tribes want is the challenge; communicating the opportunities under the DOE where wants and opportunities overlap is the opportunity.
Reliable, dependable, and affordable energy is the engine of economic development. There are many needs on Indian reservations that are linked to saving energy and securing energy for tribal communities to grow, prosper, and contribute beyond Indian Country. There are great opportunities for tribes to develop their natural resources according to their unique visions.
How would you characterize the impact of DOE support on tribal energy development?
Tribal capacity, resources, and visions vary—there is no one-size-fits-all strategy, but there are lessons we can learn together. As many tribes have broadened their knowledge and capacity, DOE’s contribution to tribal energy development has evolved from studying and planning energy projects to installing energy efficiency measures and building small and large-scale energy systems. Our impact is linked to the tribes’ implementing strategies to realize their energy visions.
Each person on our team amazes me with their talents and commitment to our mission to improve the standard of living for tribal members. The drive I see in each person motivates me to do my part.
How does technical and economic support provided by the Office of Indian Energy impact people’s lives?
As a member of any community, the luxury of living in a safe and comfortable home should be ordinary. This is not true for many families living on Indian reservations. Poorly built homes that are energy inefficient steal from tribal families. On a small scale, I have seen individual homes go through energy audits, have energy efficiency measures installed or independent energy systems installed in remote areas, and suddenly experience comfort and reduced financial burden from paying half their income to heat their homes. On a larger scale, I have seen utility-scale solar PV systems increasing a tribe’s capacity to provide comfortable and safe homes for more of their community members.
Our technical assistance and competitive financial assistance programs can support tribes to reach their energy visions. Through our technical assistance program, we offer tribes strategic energy planning to assess their resources and options and to help define what they want to achieve 2 years, 5 years, or more down the road, or answer specific questions on technology or financial viability of a project. To help tribes take the next project development steps, our competitive financial assistance program provides funds to deploy energy projects that are ready for implementation.
What is your favorite tribal energy project you’ve worked on and why?
Favorite project is not quite the right word because all the tribal projects are remarkable. I grew up in Spokane, Washington, and never knew about the tribe that lived just 45 miles away in Wellpinit! It is an honor to work with the Spokane Indian Tribe to install solar PV on tribal homes and buildings to secure their energy supply and reduce the cost of energy. In 2019, just one year ago, when the world was a different place, I was able to celebrate with the Spokane Indian Tribe on their Reservation. It was amazing to me to come full circle.
What do you see looking ahead to the future of energy in Indian Country?
I see Indian tribes contributing to our nation’s independent energy future on their own terms when mutual interests are clearly communicated and respected.