WASHINGTON, D.C. – On December 4, 2023, U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Jennifer M. Granholm signed a memorandum reaffirming DOE’s commitment to purchase clean power from Tribes while working to meet the federal government’s clean energy goals.
“As Tribes continue to lead in addressing the climate crisis, they can think of DOE as not just a partner, but a potential customer. Secretary Granholm’s commitment can help Tribes reach the economies-of-scale needed to break ground on new community energy projects and better sustain their clean energy workforce,” said Wahleah Johns, the director of DOE’s Office of Indian Energy and a citizen of the Navajo Nation.
Through the authority of the Indian Energy Purchase Preference, part of the Energy Policy Act of 2005, federal agencies can give preference to Tribal majority-owned businesses when purchasing electricity or other energy products and byproducts. This authority has garnered greater attention since President Biden signed Executive Order 14057, which set the federal government on a path to run on 100% carbon pollution-free electricity by 2030. The order has spurred federal procurement of clean energy and thereby created more opportunities to apply the preference and carve out opportunities to buy energy from Tribes.
The renewed commitment by Secretary Granholm supports the procurement of clean energy from Tribes through two main efforts. First, it directs DOE’s offices to assist in connecting Tribal electric generation projects to the grid to make Tribal energy accessible for federal procurement. Specifically, DOE facilities are directed to engage Tribes in long-term energy planning and encourage utility companies that currently receive DOE funding to work effectively with Tribes.
Second, the memorandum kickstarts the process of updating DOE’s procurement policies under the preference to include carbon pollution-free electricity. DOE’s current policies were written to apply the Tribal preference to renewable energy generation, namely wind and solar. With Secretary Granholm’s memo, those policies will be updated to include a wider array of energy sources, such as nuclear and green hydrogen. Finally, the memo directs DOE to pilot the preference beyond electricity to a wider array of energy products. This could include Energy Attribute Credits (also known as Renewable Energy Credits), which do not require a direct grid connection for Tribes to sell power products to the government.
Mary Sotos, director of DOE's Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP), states, "With this announcement, DOE is truly leading by example in our nation's transition to an equitable clean energy future. FEMP looks forward to helping other federal agencies replicate this impactful approach."
DOE and others in the federal government are placing renewed emphasis on procuring energy from Tribes. The White House highlighted its commitment to using the Indian Energy Purchase Preference during the Tribal Nations Summit in November 2022. Since that commitment, DOE has been collaborating with the White House Council on Native American Affairs, the U.S. General Services Administration, and the U.S. Department of Defense to enhance the use of the preference across the government.
For information related to selling power to federal entities under the Indian Energy Purchase Preference policy, visit the DOE Office of Indian Energy website.
Raymond Redcorn, 202-748-0538 or firstname.lastname@example.org