On Sept. 16, 2015, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced five grants to help reduce energy costs for tribes in Alaska, Arizona, and South Dakota where the cost of producing electricity is extremely high.

Through the High Energy Cost Grant program, the USDA will provide $7.9 million to nine grantees to help improve the environment by reducing carbon emissions and the use of fossil fuels. The funds can be used to improve energy generation, transmission, or distribution facilities in communities where the average residential cost for home energy exceeds 275% of the national average.

The grantees are:

  • Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium – $426,916 to retrofit sanitation systems and train operators in the eight communities of Napaskiak, Nunapitchuk, Chefornak, Nightmute, Tuntutuliak, Newtok, Teller and Tununak. These communities have no road access, high energy costs and struggling economies. The project will increase energy efficiency by upgrading interior and exterior lighting; installing new controls for heating systems and laundry services, new controls for water storage and pumping; and making weatherization improvements.
  • Puvurnaq Power Company – $857,920 to integrate a 200 kilowatt lithium ion-based battery energy storage system into the wind-diesel power system in Kongiganak, Alaska. This project will lower fuel consumption by up to 20,000 gallons per year and save the the community about $92,000 annually.
  • Ipnatchiaq Electric Utility – $175,071 to 1) bring electricians to Deering for five weeks; 2) replace three deteriorated poles; 3) replace insulator caps; 4) repair the distribution system and 5) train staff at the utility to operate and maintain the system. The Ipnatchiaq Electric Utility is in Deering, Alaska, on the Kotzebue Sound at the mouth of the Immachuk River, 57 miles southwest of Kotzebue. The 122 residents are predominantly Alaska Native (Inupiat Eskimo).
  • Hualapai Tribe – $1,881,130 to build an electrical transmission line from Grand Canyon West to a substation operated by UniSource Energy Services. The project will reduce the cost of electricity from 46 cents per kilowatt hour to 8 cents per kilowatt hour. Lowering energy costs will make housing more affordable for workers who commute to Grand Canyon West.
  • Sacred Power LLC – $1,406,975 to install wind turbines that will provide energy at homes in the St. Francis community within the Rosebud Sioux. Each household system will include a 1.8 kilowatt Pika T701 wind turbine, and one Pika X3001 inverter to condition the power for the grid.

Read the full release about the High Energy Cost Grant program.