Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs

Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians Celebrates Initial Step Toward Achieving Its Tribal Energy Vision

July 27, 2016

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On July 25, Office of Indian Energy Director Chris Deschene joined Soboba Tribal Council Vice-Chair Isaiah Vivanco, other members of the tribal council and staff, and partners from Southern California Edison and Optimum Group for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the installation of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians’ new solar system. Photo from the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians.

On July 25, Office of Indian Energy Director Chris Deschene joined Soboba Tribal Council Vice-Chair Isaiah Vivanco, other members of the tribal council and staff, and partners from Southern California Edison and Optimum Group for a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the installation of the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians’ new solar system. Photo from the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians.

The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians’ 1-megawatt solar photovoltaic system, which was co-funded by a DOE grant, will help power the tribal administrative building, preschool, Tribal Hall, and other key community facilities, meeting 80% of those buildings’ yearly energy needs and saving the Tribe an estimated $6.4 million in electricity costs over the next 20 years. Photo from the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians.

The Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians’ 1-megawatt solar photovoltaic system, which was co-funded by a DOE grant, will help power the tribal administrative building, preschool, Tribal Hall, and other key community facilities, meeting 80% of those buildings’ yearly energy needs and saving the Tribe an estimated $6.4 million in electricity costs over the next 20 years. Photo from the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians.

On July 25, the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians (Tribe) celebrated the installation of a 1-megawatt (MW) solar photovoltaic (PV) system on its approximately 7,000-acre Reservation in the foothills of the San Jacinto Valley in Southern California. The Tribe invested more than $1 million in the $2.1 million solar PV project, which was co-funded by a $1 million U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Indian Energy Deployment Program grant competitively awarded to the Tribe in 2015. 
 
As the first step in the Tribe’s multi-step process to achieve its energy vision, the solar PV system will help power the tribal administrative building, preschool, Tribal Hall, and other key community facilities, meeting 80% of those buildings’ yearly energy needs and saving the Tribe an estimated $6.4 million in electricity costs over the next 20 years. As the sole owner of the project, the Tribe will receive credit for electricity fed back into the grid through an agreement negotiated with Southern California Edison. 
 
In 2011, DOE assisted the Tribe with strategic energy planning through a First Steps grant awarded to support the development of the Tribe’s energy vision, which incorporates three priorities.
 
“The Tribe's long-term energy vision is to become self-sufficient and thereby attain greater control of its destiny, to control costs in view of rapidly rising electric utility expenses, and to maximize the use of renewable energy consistent with sustainable development practices,”  said Tribal Council Chairman Scott Cozart. “We hope the Soboba Tribe has been helpful in paving the way for other tribes to more easily do the same and take charge of their own economic destinies.” 
 
In January 2016 the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians was competitively selected to receive a third DOE grant to help fund the installation of a second 1-MW solar PV system. The Tribe’s investment of $1.5 million in the $2 million project will be leveraged by $500,000 in DOE grant funds. This second system is estimated to meet over 90% of the energy needs of a tribal facility that ranks among the Reservation’s largest electricity users. 
 
For more information, read the 2011 and 2015 project summaries and view the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians project update presented at the 2015 Program Review. 
 
- Written by Ernie Tucker