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Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin

Oneida, Wisconsin

Project Title
Solar Electric Deployment Project on Tribal Facilities

Type of Application

DOE Grant Number

Project Amounts
DOE: $999,972
Awardee: $1,044,918
Total: $2,044,890

Project Status
See project status

Project Period of Performance
Start August 2015
End July 2017


The Oneida Tribe of Indians of Wisconsin (OTIW) plans to install solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays on the roofs of up to nine tribal buildings. Each building will undergo the necessary engineering and design to meet system and code requirements. The maximum total system size of the combined PV systems is approximately 695 kilowatts (kW). The PV systems will generate an estimated 817,000 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy per year, saving the Tribe an estimated $80,000 in annual energy costs at 2015 net-meter rates. System size for each individual project was based on solar resource, energy consumption data, rooftop dimensions and condition, interconnection capabilities, and utility net-meter criteria.

Project Description


The OTIW Energy Team, formed in 2005 under the direction of the OTIW General Manager, has been researching best practices to improve the energy efficiency of and increase the renewable energy within the tribal infrastructure. The team was directed to define the best alternatives for the OTIW to reduce energy use. In 2007, four subteams were created around four focus areas: Commercial Buildings, Residential Buildings, Transportation, and Renewable Energy. In 2008, the OTIW became an official ENERGY STAR Partner under the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency program and was thereby committed to reduce OTIW building energy consumption by 10% minimum. The OTIW believes there are considerable opportunities to reduce the Tribe’s energy use.

The OTIW has made great strides to develop an energy management plan to control energy costs and integrate clean energy technologies. A host of renewable energy projects the OTIW has invested in further demonstrate its commitment to produce and use energy in a responsible manner.

The most recent energy studies and projects the OTIW has conducted include:

  1. Building Audit Program, 2011–2013: This project initiated audits for 44 governmental and commercial buildings owned and operated by the OTIW.
  2. Met-Tower Study, 2010–2011: OTIW installed met-towers to investigate its wind resource. Findings show that the western and southern portions of the Oneida Reservation have the greatest potential for wind turbine construction.
  3. Solar Thermal, commissioned 2012: The Anna John Resident Centered Care Community (an elder care facility) opened its doors in 2012. Recognizing that 1) large health care facilities typically have a tremendous demand for hot water, and 2) solar thermal systems are most efficient on large demand facilities, OTIW planned and designed a 48-collector system during the programming and design stages of the facility. Fortunately, the funding strategy for the system, the construction schedule for the building, and the availability of a qualified solar thermal installer coincided to create a respectable system in northeast Wisconsin.
  4. Energy Optimization Model (EOM), 2011–2014: Few renewable energy resources are available in Wisconsin, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Bioenergy, wind, solar, and ground-source heating and cooling are the renewable sources that provide the best opportunities for Wisconsin and Oneida to achieve some level of energy independence. The EOM was intended to evaluate renewable sources on the Reservation, investigate the available technologies, provide pre-feasibility work on tribal facilities to determine their capability to support these technologies, and devise an investment strategy that can support and recommend a renewable portfolio standard. Results are still being generated; however, the overall findings tend to favor solar as an immediate opportunity as other resource opportunities develop.

Project Objectives

The project objective is to install up to approximately 695 kW of solar PV modules on the roofs of up to nine tribal facilities with trust or fee status and located in the central and eastern areas of the Oneida Reservation. The maximum total system size is approximately 695 kW. The PV systems will generate an estimated 817,000 KWh of energy per year, saving the Tribe an estimated $80,000 in annual energy costs at 2015 net-meter rates.

The three primary benefits to the Tribe from this project are:

  1. Installation of approximately 695 kW of PV systems will supply more than 10% of building energy consumption, saving the tribe an estimated $80,000 annually.
  2. The funding strategy will introduce the Tribe to new avenues to pursue different energy technologies.
  3. The project will be a significant contribution to the Tribe’s renewable portfolio.

Project Scope

The Solar Electric Deployment Project proposal was developed by the OTIW with assistance from subcontractors. System size for each individual project was based on solar resource, energy consumption data, rooftop dimensions and condition, interconnection capabilities, and utility net-meter criteria. Combined system size for all of the rooftop PV systems is 695 kW. Estimated production is 817,000 kWh.

The OTIW has collaborated with the developer to identify the best financial opportunities and system designs. The funding strategy is comprised of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant and taxable investor financing. OTIW and the investor will unite to create a limited liability company to fund the project. The business structure, referred to as a partnership flip model, allows the private partner to monetize all tax benefits associated with the system. Ownership of the asset will transfer to the OTIW after eight years.

Verification: System monitoring will take advantage of inverter on-board monitoring software. This information will be uploaded regularly, processed, and summarized in table and graphical form for reporting and presentation purposes.

Operations and Maintenance Plan: Upon completion of system construction, facility electricians will be trained in system operation and troubleshooting. As proposed, the partner will assume responsibility for operations and maintenance (O&M) of all systems for the first eight years of project life. When the asset is transferred to the Tribe, tribal facility electricians will assume O&M responsibilities. The Tribe may pursue service agreements, depending on the extent of services required.

Project Location

Oneida Nation (Oneida) is located in northeast Wisconsin. The Oneida Reservation is approximately 96 square miles (8 miles x 12 miles). The city of Green Bay is east of the Reservation. Land use is primarily agricultural on the western two-thirds and suburban on the eastern third of the Reservation. Approximately 4,000 tribally enrolled members live on the Reservation.

Project Status

This project is complete. For more details, see the final report.

The project was competitively selected under the DOE Office of Indian Energy Tribal Energy Grant Program's fiscal year 2015 funding opportunity announcement “Deployment of Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Projects on Indian Lands” (DE-FOA-0001021) and started in August 2015.

The May 2015, December 2016, and November 2017 project status reports provide more information.