Calista Corporation – 2016 Project

Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs

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Calista Corporation

Glennallen, AK

Project Title
Calista Energy Management Assistance Initiative

Type of Application
Inter-tribal Technical Assistance Network

DOE Grant Number

Project Amounts
DOE: $967,498
Awardee: $109,584
Total: $1,077,082

Project Status
See project status

Project Period of Performance
Start: September 2016
End: December 2019


The Calista Energy Management Assistance Initiative (CEMAI) aims to provide technical assistance to the 56 tribal communities in the Calista region of Alaska to reduce costs, improve operational efficiency, and enhance human capacity and job opportunities. By building on existing assets and expertise, CEMAI will catalyze and guide numerous disparate efforts into a consolidated and effective region-wide initiative that can bring rural energy best practices, economies of scale, operational efficiencies, and human capacity and economic development to the fore. Integrating village energy plans, maintenance, and development efforts across communities, The CEMAI will create a regional road map, increase economies of scale, and foster resilient service delivery systems.

Project Description


Primarily surrounded by the Bering Sea and two of Alaska’s mightiest rivers, the Yukon and Kuskokwim, the Calista Region in southwest Alaska is the traditional territory of indigenous Yup’ik, Cup’ik, and Athabascan peoples. Encompassing 57,000 square miles, the Calista Region is home to 56 federally recognized tribes. There are no roads that connect this region with the rest of Alaska. Because everything must be flown in on small planes or barged to each community, the cost of food, fuel, transportation, and energy are extraordinarily high, and commodities such as fuel are generally limited to barge delivery in the ice-free summer months.

Calista Corporation has been engaged in supporting the villages in this region with their energy challenges for decades. In the recent past, it has worked closely with several regional and statewide entities. This CEMAI project will allow Calista Corporation to hold workshops, develop and disseminate training materials, increase human capacity in the region, and establish longer-term plans and relationships with energy experts.

Project Objectives and Scope

The overarching goal of this program is to reduce energy costs and improve reliability through improved operational effectiveness throughout the Calista Region. Operational effectiveness includes physical, financial, and human systems. To achieve this goal, the following program objectives have been established:

  • Identify common operational needs and improvement opportunities
  • Provide access to multi-level expertise to address existing challenges
  • Develop specialized training programs to build local capacity
  • Nurture the creation of regional support networks
  • Increase access to regional, state, and federal energy initiatives
  • Improve technical skills, wages, and job opportunities.

Significant and widespread performance differences exist across rural utilities. The technical assistance program will bring the expertise and focus needed to improve the performance of all community energy systems. This will be accomplished through evaluating performance; establishing baselines and setting benchmarks for reliability, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness; and aligning and optimizing scarce resources.

Each individual community energy system is both a self-contained unit and a comparison point for other systems. By unifying operational objectives across the region, the technical assistance program can create value by aggregating needs, integrating planning, and nurturing self-supporting services, which are necessary for lowering long-term costs and improving sustainability. This will also include identifying where and which outside expertise is necessary for high-value activities.

To accomplish project objectives, Calista Corporation will implement the following activities:

  1. Measure and benchmark energy performance outcomes, costs, and infrastructure inventory across communities through targeted data collection and establishment of key performance indicators
  2. Hire at least two local residents from different areas within the region to receive intensive training, get exposure to energy experts, collect relevant data, participate in workshops and community outreach, and work closely with our technical assistance service delivery team
  3. Assist with rate-setting and financial planning
  4. Nurture existing capacity within communities via specialized training workshops and operation and maintenance standardization
  5. Provide access to experts across the region, state, and nation
  6. Facilitate intra-regional communication, education, and outreach
  7. Aggregate needs and opportunities

Project Location

The CEMAI will provide technical assistance to tribal communities in the Calista Region located in southwest Alaska. Encompassing 57,000 square miles, the Calista Region is home to 56 federally recognized tribes. Calista Corporation has 13,000 shareholders of Yup’ik, Cup’ik, and Athabascan descent, many of whom still practice a year-round subsistence lifestyle of hunting, fishing, and trapping.

Project Status

The project was competitively selected under the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Indian Energy’s Fiscal Year 2016 funding opportunity announcement “Establishment of an Inter-tribal Technical Assistance Energy Providers Network” (DE-FOA-0001453) and started in September 2016.

The November 2016 project status report provides more information.

For current project status or additional information, please contact the project contact.