You are here


The Cabazon Band of Mission Indians' long-range goals are to become energy self-sufficient, foster economic diversity, grow jobs, and improve the well-being of members of the tribe as well as those in its region of Southern California. The first step in achieving the Cabazon's ultimate goal is to complete a strategic energy plan as it relates to the potential Renewable Energy Demonstration Center (REDC) leading to an executable action plan for the REDC.

Project Description

The members of the Cabazon, a federally recognized Native American Indian tribe, are descendants of the Cahuilla Indians who have occupied the desert region of Southern California for thousands of years.  As one of approximately a dozen independent clans of the Cahuilla, the Cabazon claims its own name, territory, and common ancestry.  Although the tribe numbered 600 in the mid-1800s, the population had dwindled to less than 70 by mid-1980s, and most tribal members were poverty stricken. Since that time, under a reorganized tribal government, the Cabazon has dramatically increased its economic base, and in 1997 the Cabazon was granted self-governance status.

In 1990, recognizing the need for an environmentally sound industry and a diversified economic base, the Cabazon allocated a 590-acre portion of its reservation near Mecca, California, for a Resource Recovery Park. The facility is federally permitted to accept a wide range of waste materials for conversion to reusable materials and energy as well as being a federal enterprise zone. The current facilities at the park include the following: (1) 700–900 ton/day biomass (wood wastes)-to-electricity (47-megawatt) incinerator power plant; (2) a tire recycling plant; and (3) a soil recycling facility. These operations utilize approximately a quarter of the 590 acres and contribute to the income of the tribe.

Project Objectives

The Cabazon Band of Mission Indians' long-range goals are to become energy self-sufficient, foster economic diversity, grow jobs, and improve the well-being of members of the tribe as well as those in its region of Southern California. At the same time, the Cabazon wishes to not sacrifice its long-time commitment to the careful stewardship of the environment. The Cabazon believes that "green" industries, such as renewable energy, offer a path to achieving its goals. The Cabazon was one of the first tribes to enter the gaming industry and now aspires to similarly be a leader of innovation in renewable energy and develop a replicable model that other Indian tribes throughout the United States may leverage.

The Cabazon appreciates that while the ventures at the Cabazon Resource Recovery Park (CRRP) are a step toward achieving its goals, it needs to pursue other opportunities, especially those that are more innovative and that offer the opportunity for substantial technological gains as well as significant economic benefits. As part of this search for opportunities that might fulfill these objectives, the Cabazon discovered Technikon Inc., a nonprofit organization based in Sacramento, California. It is there that the company operates the U.S. Army-funded Renewable Energy Testing Center (RETC) within its 60,000-square-foot facility. The RETC provides government and industry with an independent testing site to evaluate the performance of renewable energy technologies. Technikon supplies data and technical solutions that accelerate the development of promising renewable energy technologies.

Project Scope

The strategic planning effort to be conducted leading to an action plan for the REDC includes a baseline assessment, development of a vision, and an action plan. The following tasks will be completed to achieve the project objective:

  1. Baseline assessment
    • Vision statement
    • Needs and forecasts
    • Energy resource options
    • Preliminary choices
    • Setting priorities
  2. Action plan to adding renewable energy to tribal lands

Task 1.0 Vision and Baseline Assessment
Under Task 1, the Cabazon Band will conduct a strategic planning effort for the REDC that addresses: "where you are" (baseline assessment), "where you want to go" (a vision), and "how you're going to get there" (an action plan). The results of the strategic planning effort will include:

  • A detailed Baseline Assessment that describes the present renewable energy technologies on the CRRP and the energy consumption of the other operations at the CRRP
  • A detailed Vision document for addition of renewable energy technologies in accordance with the long-range tribal goals of establishing energy self-sufficiency and a strong and diverse economic base from which the tribe can provide for its self-sufficiency and self-determination for generations to come.

Task 2.0 Action Plan
Under Task 2, the team will determine the time-phased power demand at the CRRP and the potential to generate renewable power (supply) utilizing the existing waste stream on site. This will be followed by development of an Action Plan that will include a specific roadmap to add additional renewable energy technologies to the CRRP. This includes the concept of a Renewable Energy Demonstration Center that would attract and expand the renewable energy options.

Project Location

The Cabazon Band Reservation, located on four sections of noncontiguous land on the eastern half of the Coachella Valley in Riverside County, California, is approximately 25 miles east of Palm Springs, comprises 1,500 acres adjacent to the cities of Indio, Coachella, and the unincorporated communities of Thermal and Mecca, and currently has the seventh highest residential electricity rates among U.S. Native American reservations.

Project Status

The project is complete. For details, see the final report.

The project was competitively selected under the Tribal Energy Program's fiscal year 2010 funding opportunity announcement "First Steps Toward Developing Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency on Tribal Lands" (DE-FOA-0000422) and started September 2011.

The November 2011 and March 2014 project status reports provide more information.

Project Overview

Cabazon Band of Mission Indians

Indio, CA

Project Title
Strategic Energy Planning - Renewable Energy Demonstration Center

Type of Application:
First Steps (Planning)

DOE Grant Number

Project Amounts
DOE: $105,910
Awardee: $18,562
Total: $124,472

Project Status

Project Period of Performance
Start: September 2011
End: December 2013