Spokane Indian Housing Authority
Children of The Sun Energy Infrastructure Initiative
Type of Application
DOE Grant Number
Project Period of Performance
Start: September 2017
End: October 2019
The Spokane Indian Housing Authority (SIHA) will install approximately 637 kilowatts (kW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) to serve 14 community buildings. In addition, the use of inverters will allow for the future incorporation of battery storage to help address reliability issues. This project will provide an estimated 24% of the community's total energy load and is projected to reduce community energy costs by at least $2.8 million over the 35-year life of the PV systems.
Spokane is a Salish word meaning “Children of the Sun” or “Sun People.” The Spokane Tribe of Indians has inhabited northeast Washington, Northern Idaho, and western Montana for many centuries and presently lives in and around Wellpinit, Washington, on 159,000 acres. The Tribal Council established SIHA by ordinance in 1971.
Over the past six years, the Tribe has developed long-term energy goals and visions rooted in their strong interest in reliable, sustainable energy infrastructure that provides job opportunities and improves the Reservation economy. Development of a long-term energy vision began in February 2011 when the Tribe’s Sustainable Community Master Plan was launched to develop integrated planning and policy solutions.
This project is based on an extensive review of the Tribe’s and SIHA’s buildings to identify appropriate solar PV system sizes and locations, and it furthers the Tribe’s/SIHA’s prior work to implement projects consistent with their long-term energy vision, including more than 100 weatherization projects and several solar PV installations.
Project Objectives and Scopes
This project takes a significant step toward energy independence for the Tribe by designing, building, and operating approximately 637 kW of solar PV installations on tribal buildings, including very low-income residences. This project will also assist the Tribe in addressing the Reservation’s significant grid-reliability problems by incorporating inverter technology that allows for the future installation of solar battery storage. Benefits from the project will include lower energy costs and will provide training and operations and maintenance (O&M) opportunities.
Specifically, the project’s objectives are to:
- Design, build, and operate approximately 637.43 kW of solar PV systems at identified SIHA and tribal buildings;
- Allow for the future incorporation of solar battery storage at key SIHA and tribal buildings that are especially important to keep running during grid outages;
- Cost-effectively provide an estimated 23,126,810 kWh of electricity over the project’s life to SIHA, the Tribe, and tribal seniors using Department of Energy funding and tax-credit value to reduce net development costs;
- Provide six to eight tribal members with construction training and jobs and four to six members with O&M training and two with jobs; and
- Provide a replicable example to other housing authorities and tribes of how to combine federal funding and tax credits to implement reliable, clean energy projects and lower energy costs and environmental footprints, while creating significant training and job opportunities.
The Tribe lives on 159,000 acres in and around Wellpinit, Washington, primarily in Stevens County, and the proposed project will service 14 of the 79 buildings in the SIHA and tribal buildings in Wellpinit, the Tribe’s “capital city” of the reservation, including 12 of the tribal senior residences. The Spokane Tribal Employment Rights Ordinance Department reported 2,828 tribally enrolled members in the 2013 fiscal year, with 1,386 of these individuals living on the reservation and about 138 in Wellpinit.
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 September 2017.