Net Metering Expansion on the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska Reservation
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Ho-Chunk, Inc. (HCI), owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, will install 320 kilowatts (kW) of solar photovoltaics (PV) to serve nine tribal facilities, representing 221,600 square feet, and reduce electric use by approximately 6%. This project will add 320 kilowatts (kW) of installed solar capacity to the existing 400 kW, for a total of 720 kW toward the Tribe’s near-term goal of 1 megawatt.
HCI was formed in 1994 with one employee to diversify the Tribe's investments beyond gaming. The goal was to develop an entrepreneurial company that was able to recognize and develop various economic opportunities.Due to HCI’s Native heritage, the company has a long-term commitment to conserve and protect natural resources for future generations. That traditional belief is coupled with the desire to use technology to create clean energy infrastructure on the Winnebago Reservation. In 2010, HCI was awarded the top technical award from the Nebraska Energy Office Advanced Energy Grant for a solar proposal that became the first solar PV energy installed on a Nebraska Reservation.
This project calls upon existing local skills and experience to advance community-scale clean energy capacity on the Winnebago Reservation. This large expansion of existing capacity will testify to the continued commitment to sustainability that HCI and the Tribe have already shown through previous investment, and their interest in continued investment.
The primary goal of this project is to continue development of clean energy infrastructure on the Winnebago Reservation and maximize available opportunities under current interconnection policy. This very visible and significant expansion of previous efforts will show tribal members this is a serious investment and will help create further policy and direction toward continued infrastructural development. This community-scale deployment will also help to further develop a culture of energy stewardship and awareness through expanded energy infrastructure and education.
Benefits of this community-scale deployment include reducing operational costs associated with electrical use where these systems are installed, training personnel, and taking investment in clean energy to the next level. Anticipated economic impacts are $46,909 saved in retail energy expenditures in the first year, and generation of approximately $1.4 million in savings over the 25-year project life. This is money that would stay on the Reservation and not be used to pay energy bills.
This project is for the installation of 320 kW of solar PV on nine buildings located on tribal lands. This project will substantially increase energy infrastructure on the Winnebago Reservation and reduce retail electrical consumption by an estimated 455 megawatt-hours annually. The energy savings will directly benefit tribal economics, job creation, and internal capacity.
The proposed community-scale project will provide for solar PV deployments with cost-effective, shovel-ready projects that meet strict economic criteria. These applications include commercial sites that have either very large consumption or higher-than-average cost. Each of these technically and economically viable applications has been thoroughly investigated. The decentralized nature of the proposed projects reflects the limitations inherent in available interconnection policy size limitations, but also maximizes economic capture by displacing high-cost retail power purchases. Impacts of this community-scale deployment will include reduced electrical energy expenses, personnel training and increased clean energy investment.
The Ho-Chunk Indians were a woodland Tribe that occupied areas around southern Wisconsin from about 500 AD. The Winnebago have inhabited their current location in Nebraska since the Winnebago Indian Reservation, consisting of about 27,000 acres in Dixon and Thurston Counties in Nebraska and Woodbury County in Iowa, was established by treaties of 1865 and 1874. The Winnebago Tribe has more than 4,000 members. This 320-kW solar PV project will be deployed at nine tribal facilities: 1) the Pony Express Fuel Station in Sloan, Iowa; 2) the Pony Express Fuel Station in Rosalie, Nebraska; 3) the HCI Accounting building in Winnebago, Nebraska; 4) Blackhawk Community Center in Winnebago, Nebraska; 5) Winnavegas Casino in Sloan, Iowa; 6) Winnavegas Hotel in Sloan, Iowa; 7) North Amphitheater in Sloan, Iowa; 8) Winnavegas RV Park in Sloan, Iowa, and 9) Winnavegas Casino Training Center in Sloan, Iowa.
The project was competitively selected under the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Indian Energy Fiscal Year 2018 funding opportunity announcement “Energy Infrastructure Deployment on Tribal Lands - 2018” (DE-FOA-0001847) and started in November 2018.