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Project Overview

Tribe/Awardee

Ho-Chunk Incorporated

Location

Winnebago, NE

Project Title

Winnebago Community Scale Solar

Type of Application

Deployment

DOE Grant Number

DE-EE0000089

Project Amounts

DOE: $374,653

Awardee: $374,654

Total: $749,307

Project Status

See project status

Project Period of Performance

Start: September 2017

End: August 2019

Summary

Ho-Chunk Incorporated (HCI) will install 279 kilowatts (kW) of solar photovoltaics (PV) and a 5-kW wind turbine (Initiative A), which will reduce retail electrical consumption by about 27%. These installations are projected to produce about 401 megawatt-hours per year (MWh/yr) and will save a projected $38,030 per year in retail energy costs. HCI will also install 29 kW of solar PV and passive solar thermal measures at the Ho-Chunk Village Live Work Building (Initiative B). The 29-kW system is estimated to produce 40,000 kWh/yr and will offset an average of 3,300 kWh/month compared to the 11,212 kWh of estimated monthly consumption (29% offset). The passive solar thermal measures are estimated to contribute a 2% offset.

Project Description

Background

The Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska struggled for many years with low income, high unemployment, and a lack of affordable housing. These economic problems and ensuing social problems encouraged many tribal members to leave the reservation in search of new opportunity or to not seek a job at all because it would disqualify them from federal housing. Through the creation of new job opportunities at Ho-Chunk, Inc., there came the need for additional housing on the Winnebago Reservation. The Ho-Chunk Village concept was developed to fulfill that void. Upon its completion, the Ho-Chunk Village's residential area will include more than 110 housing units featuring single-home ownership, multi-family rental, and Live-Work units. The integration of clean-energy production into HCI Village was a natural match that began many years ago with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) support for installing Skystream wind turbines in 2008 and continues to this day with the community-scale solar deployment. 

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 cutting-edge technology and to create clean-energy infrastructure on the Winnebago Reservation. In 2010, Ho-Chunk, Inc. installed the first parts of a roof-mounted active-tracking solar system in Nebraska after winning the top technical award from the Nebraska Energy Office Advanced Energy solicitation for the project (funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act). This effort became the first PV solar energy created on a Nebraska reservation and was documented in Photon Magazine at that time. The team involved in that first project is together again on this project to foster further growth.

This community-scale project represents the next phase of development toward the larger goal of tribal energy independence and decreasing economic drain of the reservation.

Project Objectives and Scope

The primary goal of this project is to continue the development of clean-energy infrastructure on the Winnebago Reservation and maximize available opportunities under Nebraska interconnection policy. This community-scale project will help to significantly offset energy usage and costs and to increase clean-energy developmental capacity with the Tribe, which will be used as a platform to leverage further growth in this area.

Under this project, HCI, the economic development corporation owned by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, will install community-scale solar PV systems on the Winnebago Reservation and will—specifically for the Live Work Building—add passive solar thermal efficiency measures. Additionally, a 5-kW wind installation will be included in the project.

The project comprises two initiatives to: 1) install community-scale solar on the Winnebago Reservation (Initiative A); and 2) install solar renewables and passive solar thermal measures at the Ho-Chunk Village (HCI Village) Live Work Building (Initiative B).

Specifically, under Initiative A, HCI will install about 284 kW on the reservation—10 solar installations (about 279 kW) and one wind installation (about 5 kW), that will combine to reduce the associated retail electrical consumption at those sites by about 27%. These installations are projected to produce about 401 MWh/yr and will save a projected $38,030 per year in retail energy costs. In addition, under Initiative B, HCI will install solar renewables (29 kW) and passive solar thermal measures at the Ho-Chunk Village Live Work Building, a commercial building in the final stages of construction.

Project Location

The Winnebago Reservation, established in 1863, is located in Thurston and Dixon Counties, Nebraska and Woodbury County, Iowa, and it has a land base of 27,637 acres. The project will be located across the Winnebago Reservation in northeast Nebraska. Upon its completion, the Ho-Chunk Village's residential area will include more than 110 housing units featuring single-home ownership, multi-family rental, and Live-Work units. The community-scale project will install solar PV and wind turbines at commercial operations, non-profits, the Tribal College, Tribal Elder housing units, and a system to produce enough clean energy to make the annual Tribal Pow Wow an energy-positive event. The brand-new Live Work structure is located at 601 Buffalo Trail, Winnebago, NE, and measures 100’ × 75’ (7,500 ft2). It is nearing the end of the construction cycle and is a two-story all-electric commercial building situated on land owned by HCI (Winnebago Tribe) in the HCI Village.

Project Status

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

The project was competitively selected under the DOE Office of Indian Energy Fiscal Year 2016 funding opportunity announcement “Deployment of Energy Efficiency and Clean Energy on Indian Lands – 2017” (DE-FOA-0001660) and started in August 2017.

The November 2017December 2018, and November 2019 project status reports provide more information.