James Jensen: Welcome, everybody. I am James Jensen, a contractor supporting Western Area Power Administration and the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs Tribal Energy webinar series. I am filling in for Randy Manion as today's webinar chair.
Today's webinar titled "Steps Towards Your Tribal Community Energy Future" is the second webinar of the 2018 DOE Tribal Energy webinar series. Let's go over some event details.
Today's webinar is being recorded and will be made available on DOE's Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs website, along with copies of today's PowerPoint presentations in about one week. Everyone will receive a post-webinar e-mail link with the link to the page where the site and recording will be located. Because we are recording this webinar all phones have been muted for this purpose. We will answer your written questions at the end of all the presentations; however, you can submit a question at any time by clicking on the question button located in the webinar control box on your screen and type in your question. We will try to keep the webinar to no longer than two hours.
Let's get started with opening remarks from Tweedie Doe. Tweedie is a Project Officer in the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, duty-stationed in Golden, Colorado. Tweedie is responsible for overseeing financial assistance awards. She has worked in the energy field for nearly 12 years and has been with the Department of Energy for the past 8.5 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Washington, and a Masters in International Relations from the University of Denver.
Tweedie, the virtual floor is now yours.
Tweedie Doe: Thank you, James. Hello, everyone. I am also filling in today for Lizana Pierce. I join James in welcoming you to this second webinar of the 2018 series. This webinar series is sponsored by two US Department of Energy organizations: the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, and Western Area Power Administration. The Office of Indian Energy directs, fosters, coordinates, and implements energy planning, education, management, and programs that assist tribes with energy development, capacity-building, energy infrastructure, energy costs, and electrification of Indian lands and homes. To provide this assistance our deployment programs works within the Department of Energy across government agencies and with Indian tribes and organizations to help Indian tribes and Alaskan Native villages overcome the barriers to energy development.
Our deployment program is composed of a three-pronged approach consisting of financial assistance, technical assistance, and education and capacity building. This Tribal Energy webinar series is just one example of our education and capacity-building efforts. This webinar series is part of the Office of Indian Energy's efforts to support fiscally responsible energy, business, and economic development decisions, making an information sharing among tribes. It is intended to provide attendees with information on tools and resources to develop and implement tribal energy plans, programs, and projects; highlight tribal energy case studies, and identify business strategies tribes can use to expand their energy options and develop sustainable local economies.
In today's webinar attendees will learn how to develop a community energy plan, including an overview of the five-step project development process developed by DOE's National Renewable Energy Laboratory for the Office of Indian Energy. Attendees will also learn the importance of using an inclusive planning process with tribal community participation to gain support for and ownership of all aspects of the plan. Speakers will describe barriers likely to be encountered during the planning process, provide tips on how to overcome those barriers, and identify tools and resources that can help tribes establish an energy plan based on developing natural resources with maximum local control and ownership.
We hope this webinar series is useful and welcome your feedback. Please let us know if there are ways we can make the series better.
With that I will now turn the virtual floor back over to James.
James Jensen: Thank you, Tweedie. Today we have five speakers. I will introduce the all now.
Our first speaker is Sean Esterly. Mr. Esterly is a Project Manager at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. Sean assists with the coordination of the Office of Indian Energy's technical assistance program, where he utilizes the resources and tools available to NREL and other partners to respond to energy questions and challenges confronting tribes. Sean's other work areas have focused on a variety of topics, including implementing energy solutions for rural areas, clean energy policy and regulations, low-emission development strategies, micro and mini-grid policies and regulations, and international clean energy policy analysis.
Sean has worked with Native American tribes as well as local, state, and national governments to develop clean energy policies and programs and to support energy markets. He has worked extensively in Alaska, Africa, and Small Island developing nations, allowing him the opportunity to experience from a multitude of different energy contexts.
Sean holds a Masters Degree in Environmental Management and Policy from the University of Denver and a Bachelor Degree in Environmental Studies and Physical Science from Eckerd College.
Following Sean we will hear from Ms. Lindsay Box. Lindsay Box was born and raised on the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. Ms. Box is a proud member of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe. Utilizing the Tribe's robust scholarship program, Lindsay graduated high school and went on to receive her Bachelor of Arts in American Indian Studies and Sociology. She has also completed half of her graduate schoolwork, but took a sabbatical to work full-time for the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.
She was employed with the Boys & Girls Club of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe as a mentor coordinator for almost eight years. Her responsibilities also included fundraising, marketing, community relations, volunteers, and club safety. In December of 2016 Lindsay took a position with the Southern Ute Indian Tribal Council as their communications specialist. As a communications specialists Lindsay has worked various media requests for the Tribe and the Southern Ute Growth Fund. She has also been responsible for many government-to-government relationships; contributed as a team member, pushing Southern Ute-specific legislation; developing a tribal lobbying internship; serving as the lead on an oral history project with tribal elders; and establishing financial literacy for our tribal community.
Lindsay resides within the exterior boundaries of the Southern Ute Indian Reservation with her ten-year-old son.
Following Ms. Box we will have a joint presentation from Ann Marie Bledsoe-Downes and Alexcia Boggs, both of whom work for Ho-Chunk, Inc., the economic development corporation of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska.
Ms. Ann Marie Bledsoe-Downes is Vice President of Community Impact and Engagement. She interacts with all areas of the company, focusing on how the numerous divisions of Ho-Chunk, Inc. impact and are connected to the local Winnebago. Prior to joining Ho-Chunk, Inc., Bledsoe-Downes served as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs at the Department of Interior. She has also been Acting Director of the Bureau of Indian Education at the Department of Interior, President of Little Priest Tribal College in Winnebago, as well as various positions at the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law Indian Legal Program, National Native American Bar Association, and the State of Arizona governor's office.
An enrolled member of the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska, Bledsoe-Downes earned her Juris Doctorate from Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.
Ms. Alexcia Boggs, a Northern Ponca tribal member, serves as Director of Development for Ho-Chunk Capital, a subsidiary of Ho-Chunk, Inc. Ho-Chunk Capital directs all investments for Ho-Chunk, Inc. Ho-Chunk Capital's mission is to create quality sustainable developments that build new value assets for the company for years to come.
Prior to working for Ho-Chunk Capital, Alexcia served as President and CEO for Ponca Economic Development Corporation. She is a founding member of First Ponca Financial and the Northern Ponca's CBFI. Alexcia's career in economic development began in 2004, when she joined the Omaha Chamber of Commerce and later took a position with the Northern Ponca Tribe as their deputy director, where she would be promoted to the president and CEO of their economic development corporation.
Alexcia is a graduate of the University of Nebraska Omaha, with a Masters Degree in Public Administration. Alexcia resides in Sergeant Bluff, Iowa with her husband and three children.
Our final presenter is Brian Lipscomb. Mr. Lipscomb is an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. He has spent his career of over 30 years managing resources across the Northwest. Since 2012 he has been CEO OF Energy Keepers, Inc. and the Corporation of Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, established as an independent power producer to acquire and operate the Selis Ksanka Qlispe Dam and Power Plant. The facility generates 1.1 million megawatt-hours of electricity on an average annual basis, which is primarily sold into the wholesale market of the Northwest.
His present experience includes time with the Forest Service, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and as the Executive Director of Columbia Basin Fish and Wildlife Authority. Brian has most enjoyed his work associated with the hydropower system of the Columbia Basin, especially the Selis Ksanka Qlispe Dam. His degree in civil engineering from Montana State University has served him well in this passion. Brian and his wife Allison, of over 32 years, enjoy spending time with their two grown sons and their families. Hunting, fishing, skiing, and camping are their favorite activities, but bottom line, any time spent with their three grandchildren is their favorite time.
So with that I've introduced all of our speakers and we will start with Mr. Esterly's presentation as soon as I get control over to him.
Sean Esterly: Great. Thank you for the introduction, James. And I hope everyone can see my screen. Thanks for having me and good afternoon or good morning, wherever you might be. I think I've actually worked with some of the attendees today directly, looking through the attendee list. So great to see you joining the webinar. Today I'll be presenting on the strategic energy planning as well as the project development process.
So this first slide just gives a really brief overview of what Tweedie was mentioning, the free on-request technical assistance offered by the DOE Office of Indian Energy. Here's some stats on numbers and locations of some of the technical assistance that's been completed and the different topics that the technical assistance covers. That includes strategic energy planning, housing and building energy efficiency, village power, project development, resilience, and policy and regulations, as well as some others.
So jumping right into the strategic energy planning and what it does for you, it's often recommended, especially in the early stages for tribes and villages that are looking at pursuing some energy projects, one of the biggest outcomes of it is building consensus. A lot of times there will be a lot of different ideas for what energy projects a tribe wants to pursue, and this helps to discuss those, discuss the potential for them, and really build momentum and agreement around those. It takes a look at the current reality in local resources, so looks at what's feasible. It also is a way to document challenges and any potential barriers before you encounter them. It maps out an efficient task to achieving your desired energy future, so instead of just looking at the end goal it looks at all the steps you're going to have to take in between your starting point and project completion, how you're going to get there.
Also one important thing that's often overlooked is that it clarifies some of the key performance indicators; so what are the milestones you need to reach? How are you going to know if your project is on a successful path? So it does a really good job of bringing together those ideas, documenting them, and providing a pathway forward for everyone. We have the binoculars and glasses as just a metaphor for short-term versus long-term being able to see that path in front of you.
So why does strategic energy planning occasionally fail? It's often because of shortsighted predictions of the situation, not taking into account a realistic timeline, or unrealistic predictions of resources. For example, pursing a wind project, for example, when there's not a good wind resource in the area, something like that. Uncoordinated implementation. So that could be not following the plan, which is often one of the biggest failure areas. If you're going through the effort of creating a strategic energy plan for your tribe or village it's important to stick to that plan. The plan can always be revised, but you want to be sure that it's accurately portraying different responsibilities and roles so that everyone knows what goals and steps you're working towards.
And then lastly, poor or casual communication. It's always important. I'll cover this later on, but outreach on the plan and communicating with everyone on where the plan is and what you're currently working towards.
So this is a snapshot of the whole strategic energy planning process. It is reiterative, meaning the reason it's displayed in a circle is it's ongoing. Once you complete the strategic energy planning process you're going to end up right back at the beginning in reevaluating that plan, especially as I talk about project energy development—project development later on. After each project is implemented you're going to want to revisit your plan and update those milestones and goals.
So step one is identifying and convening stakeholders. This is often done during the strategic energy planning workshops and when you're in the process of organizing that workshop. So to develop the plan itself you want to make sure it's very critical to have the right people in the room. Who do you want contributing to this plan? Who should the decision-makers be? Whose ideas do you want heard and captured? And then beyond that, who is impacted by different energy decisions and projects? Utilities, community leaders, different even tribal building and community building managers, the school district, all different folks to think about and how energy impacts them.
Then informing your leadership team. After convening. Sorry, after convening the stakeholders you want to start to form your leadership team. So think about who are the people that can help drive the plan forward. It's important to draw from different stakeholders, which I'll cover in this slide here. You want a diverse leadership team, you want to—I think it's important to look at what to avoid here. You want to avoid exclusively-elected officials, exclusively having technical staff, and exclusively having just implementers. So diversity is the key here. You're going to need some of each of those within the leadership team. You need elected officials who can help make the decisions and get things moving. You need technical staff that can do analysis modeling and make some of the more technical decisions and answer some of those questions, and then you need implementers and people with funds in ways to support the project. So that's the main takeaway there.
And then step three, assessing energy needs and resources. Exclamation marks on data. Where is it? It's very important to have the energy data here. You need to know community's energy use and generation as well as some projections on future energy demands.
So energy needs, I can't stress this enough, the importance of documenting the community baseline. Different tribal and community buildings, as well as residents, if possible, it's great to track all of their energy use and consumption so that—it has a lot of great benefits there; it can help identify the most cost-effective places to implement energy projects, such as, you know, high-consumption buildings. Maybe that's a key for implementing energy efficiency to reduce their consumption. That's just one example.
Also when you're determining the current use of the community energy consumption then it helps to forecast future uses and future loads. So if you have data on residents and their energy consumption, well, if you're planning on constructing new housing you can use that information to help project and estimate what that new housing—what their energy needs will be. Same with any tribal facilities or commercial facilities as well. Without that data you're really guessing; it's really hard to determine what those energy demands might be and what projects might be needed to help meet those.
And then finally, it helps verify current service providers in rates. So you can check utility rates and make sure you're being charged the right amount. It can also help identify any potential issues. If you have a baseline for energy consumption—and I think my next slide—yeah, my next slide is an example. This is Rampart, the Alaskan Native village of Rampart. But you can see some spikes in energy use in July, August, and September, especially in September in the residential use. Those might indicate potential problems, especially in the case of larger tribal buildings or commercial buildings, if there's unexpected spikes in energy demand that could explain maybe technical issues that you're having, problems with HVAC, different things like that. So it helps identify those issues as well.
And again, this is an example of what an energy baseline would look like. It doesn't have to be a complicated process; it can be a matter of collecting utility bills from the different departments that pay those bills or one department that pays those bills, inserting them into a spreadsheet. There's also a lot of online tools other than spreadsheets that allow you to track that and it allows you to look at residential, any federal and state energy or buildings that you might have, community facilities, commercial facilities, and track those and look at how your energy use is being split amongst the community.
So forecasting future energy demand from that baseline, from, again, really helpful to have that baseline in doing this. So if within your community, so not your energy plan, but your community plan, you might have some plans to build new homes or build a new commercial building or commercial development. This can help to estimate what the community energy load will be as those projects are implemented going forward.
Resource assessment, very important to determining what projects are going to be feasible. These are just a couple of examples of ones that NREL has generated using GIS data, so these are pretty high-level assessments. These work for some technologies, but it's always recommended that you also do on-site assessments as well. So because this is based on higher-level GIS and remote data. But it gives you an idea of what's feasible. So if during the strategic energy planning process you are looking at PV, for example, and the GIS data is just showing that there's just not a good resource or some other issues that you might have, well, then it might lower PV on your priority scale of projects. This is also really helpful in the early stages of wind energy development. Now wind energy, it's always recommended that you have one to two years of actual on-site wind data. So it would be putting up an anemometer, measuring wind data for one to two years, and getting that actual data. However, this GIS data can show you—it can eliminate spots that maybe have cultural sensitivities or environmental sensitivities, and so they would be no-gos for wind development. It can also help identify areas where you should put those anemometers for testing the wind and evaluating that wind resource. So a lot of good uses there.
Step four is developing the energy vision. So this describes—it's kind of an energy vision or energy mission statement almost, or objective. It's going to describe that optimal desired future, what's the end goal, you know, maybe 10, 20, or even further down the line, where does the tribe or the village want to be in their energy picture? Always want it to be succinct and easy to remember; it should be something that's pretty easily repeatable.
To develop the energy vision, usually the first step in our workshops or in the strategic energy planning session is to identify what the common objectives are. What are the tribe or village's objectives? What do they value? This doesn't have to necessarily be specific to energy, it could be being good stewards of the environment, it could be generating revenue for the tribe, it could be building workforce and jobs and economic development. We take all those objectives and we try to incorporate them into a final energy vision.
These are some common ones listed here that we tend to see repeated; they are things shared across tribes and across villages and communities, so we listed those. We have—bring your sticky notes, because what we actually do is we throw all these objectives up on sticky notes up on the wall, so everyone—we take all the ideas, put them up there, consider all of them, and then work together to build consensus on what that energy vision is going to be while incorporating these energy objectives.
Here's just a couple of examples of some energy visions that have been developed through the strategic energy planning process. I tried to—there's a lot of other examples, a lot of tribes and villages have these; I tried to incorporate ones that touch on different aspects. So Forest County, Potawatomi, their energy vision is to reduce the Tribe's carbon footprint to zero while leading energy strategy initiatives, which support and promote the efforts of others working to reduce their own carbon footprint. So very carbon-focused energy vision, whereas Blue Lake Rancheria is very renewable energy-focused and self-sufficiency-focused; they want to achieve 100-percent self-sufficiency through renewable energy Rancheria-wide. And then finally, Rampart, Alaska, similar, from the example of energy baseline I showed, they want to build capacity to design and maintain new and existing energy systems while focusing on increasing the grid's efficiency, reliability, and stability, and to provide employment and training opportunities for tribal members.
So as you can see, a lot of different focuses in those energy visions, but they're all short, they're to the point, and they capture those main objectives of what they want to accomplish with their energy projects.
So after we establish the energy vision the next step is to establish and develop some of the more specific goals and also projects. The energy vision is the optimal future, the energy goals in the energy projects are how you're going to achieve that optimal future. And one example—sorry, before I move on to the next slide—is that energy goals should also be integrated with community development goals. This slide does cover that, it's going back to that timeline that I showed just a few slides back.
But within the community, the larger community plan, you know that you have a new home plan, maybe two new homes in a couple years, along with a cell phone tower. Maybe even more homes down the road. Then you can match up and prioritize your energy projects to match that larger community plan. So maybe before that new home is constructed you come up with an energy standard for new construction. For the cell phone towers and two new homes, maybe you have off-grid renewable energy to support those new loads. Examples like that, you want to try to match those up and consider the larger plan as much as possible as you move forward.
These are some examples, just kind of some templates for developing specific goals. These are by no means what you have to stick to, they're just common ones that we see. What we stress is that you want smart goals, you want them to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and you want a timeframe on there so that you have a time that you're working towards. So for example, reducing electricity use by a certain percentage, and then you have the year that you're shooting for. So with that energy baseline that you would establish as part of the project, you could then measure how much electricity use you have reduced each year until you meet your goal in 2022.
Same with these other examples, they all give a timeline, obtaining a certain percentage of electricity from renewables within ten years. So as you implement renewable energy projects, again, you would go back to that baseline, you would measure what the capacity of that renewable energy system is, and find out the percentage of the overall energy consumption and then see if you met your goal.
Another thing to consider in part of that reiterative process of strategic energy planning is as you meet these goals or occasionally as you fail to meet them, you know, unforeseen challenges do still come up, and as we all know, energy projects and any projects do meet delays, you may need to revise your goals, and that's certainly fine. You at that point would go back to your strategic energy plan, revise it, and align your goals once again to realistic expectations.
So prioritizing projects and programs. We often develop a ranking system to understand the cost-effectiveness of different projects, and the most cost-effective ones often go first. So there's a couple different models for that. You can look at the total resource cost, so looking at the total life cycle benefits for projects and total life cycle costs for projects. There's also the levelized cost of energy, and that allows more equal comparison across different technologies so that you can evaluate which energy technology to go with. And then there's net present value, which considers the profitability of an investment versus the opportunity cost.
So program and project selection based just on economics. This is an example of a PV Watt analysis that was done—PV Watts is a free online tool that can be used; it does a really quick analysis of potential solar generation. And so it's online, very intuitive, pretty easy to use, I definitely recommend checking it out. But for example, this was a project we looked at where this modeled system would produce 53-percent of the annual electricity of the buildings as estimated by the model. And then we have different paybacks. So with no incentives, so not taking advantage of any federal incentives it would have a 15.2-year simple payback and then if the tribe is able to take advantage of the 30-percent ITC incentive they would have a 10.7-year simple payback.
And then just looking at the screenshot of the PV Watts output, it gives you the solar radiation, the kilowatt-hours and also the energy value. And that energy value is based on the local energy costs.
So a couple of examples here of how you might prioritize and select projects, again, based on economics. This is just another example, this time one in Alaska. Hypothetical situation, but you have a remove village off the grid, they have two options, they are looking at either intertwining with a neighboring village or installing wind turbines. So which option would be the most economical based on this, again, hypothetical modeling? The intertie would currently be the most expensive, rather than diesel generators, and renewable energy would be the least expensive. Oftentimes it does not work out this way and either diesel power or newer—sometimes implementing newer diesel power that's more efficient can actually lower the cost.
And another thing to consider as you move down the timeline, you know, 15-20 years down the road, the intertie becomes more economical. So how far do you want to plan and prepare when considering these energy projects is another thing to consider. Also you always have to consider the volatility of diesel and fuel prices and how much you want to cushion and protect tribes or villages from them.
So identifying finance options. There's a lot of different financial approaches to consider: cost avoidance, efficiency (weatherization optimization); public money (there's grants and loans), and then there's also private funding. In the lower right of this slide there's just some examples of state funding, non-profit funding, and federal funding as well.
In identifying financing options there's a lot of different options out there. There's the DOE Indian Energy Development Assistance Tool online. The next slide will go into that in a little bit more detail. There's also other federal agencies that have technical assistance and grant programs to look into. Obviously DOE Office of Indian Energy has its technical assistance in the grant program. There's also state programs and there's non-governmental organizations as well that can all be looked to for additional planning and project-funding sources. The technical assistance programs, while they're not going to fund the actual project, they can provide assistance to the tribes or the villages in the planning process and project development process, rather than the tribe having to foot those expenses themselves.
So this is just an overview of the DOE funding tool. The link to that is in the top right-hand corner. If you go out to the DOE Office of Indian Energy site I believe there is a Funding tab, and under there it's pretty easy to get to. It just provides information for tribes about federal grants, loans, technical assistance programs available from all different federal agencies that can help support energy development and deployment. So you can sort—the nice useful thing about it is you can sort the information by the type of assistance, eligibility, the agency or office, the program name, or project phase.
Last thing I would say about this is that when pursuing different grants it's always really good to integrate grant-writing capability and project team technical knowledge during the project identification to support this step. If you have someone within your department that can focus on grant writing, that's really helpful. Also mention the strategic energy planning within your grant writing. It shows that you've taken the time to build consensus to look at your different options, to prioritize them and that, you know, the thought has gone into this and you're working towards an agreed-upon goal.
And finally, compiling the energy plan. So after all these steps you draft the plan, you reach consensus, you execute the plan, communicate the plan, and keep the plan moving forward. The energy plan typical components, we do have a template that we use for these, but there's—that's a recommended template; there's nothing set in stone on that. You typically want to include the energy vision or the energy mission statement, the energy objectives, the energy goals, baseline energy. It's really great if you can start collecting and maintaining that energy baseline so that it can be included in your strategic energy plan. Different barriers that you might encounter, program and project options, such as demand side and generation options. And then recommendations as well as communication plans. And then finally one thing that's often overlooked is after the plan is drafted it's a really great and important step to have it formally adopted by the tribal council. It makes it more a part of the tribe, it makes it official and is really helpful in moving the plan forward.
A couple things that help execute the plan so that it doesn't stall out once it's been formed is to create a working group and identify champions. A lot of tribes are able to have an energy coordinator or energy planner somewhere within their departments that can lead the plan and help get things done. If not, you might want to consider establishing someone like that, either on a part-time or full-time basis, that can take lead of the plan and really help move the different projects forward. It's important to meet regularly and map out different strategies and tactics, assign responsibilities, make sure people know. This goes back to the communication aspect of the plan; make sure people know what they're responsible for. Delegate and make sure that those responsibilities are doled out to different individuals.
Establishing a timeline and then tracking metrics. You want to track everything that's accomplished, as well as failures, as well as any barriers that you run into, you want to make sure those are documented. And then one of the most important things in my mind is communicating successes. Every time your each a milestone or are able to accomplish a different step of the strategic energy plan you want to make sure you communicate those, not just to tribal council and different departments, but also to the larger community, so that they know what you're working towards and that progress is being made.
And then last two slides here on the strategic energy planning, the community outreach and engagement. Communications outreach is often a goal that tribes identify through the strategic energy planning process. A couple good benefits of community outreach is energy efficiency. When considering that, a lot of that happens at the homes, and one of the best ways to incorporate energy efficiency at the home is to simply educate residents on the different options that they have, many of which are no-cost options. So having structures set up and processes set up to communicate clearly with the community is very helpful. It's also, this is where you can communicate those successes.
And also communicating about the plan and involving the community early and often can help reduce those barriers. So whether you are pursuing PV, wind, or other renewable energy projects or energy projects, involving them can help reduce feedback and opposition to those efforts. And then the bullets are just some examples of different ways you can communicate. Facebook is often really effective. Postcards are hit or miss depending on the community; postcards and flyers, they work really well in some places and not so much in others. So consider your own context and what you know works well when considering your community outreach engagement strategy.
And then finally measurement and verification. Last step is to collect the data and go back and see if you hit your milestones. And so once you are able to measure and verify data you will go back to step one, and that's when you reassess your plan and make any changes that you need to. One example could be if you do lighting retrofits on either community-wide or for one building, you would want to collect data after those retrofits are done and compare them to before the retrofits and see what your energy reductions are, did that help you meet your goal, your energy reduction goals. If so, then go back and update your plan and say that you met that goal, and if not, go back and maybe identify additional projects to help you meet that goal.
So I want to move on now to the five-step process framework for project development. So here you'll see the process that we use in these courses to outline basically just the project development process. And this process was developed by the DOE Office of Indian Energy and is based on our different experiences in project development. There are a number of different frameworks out there; I've heard of some three-step processes, some more than five-step processes. There's a lot of different ones, and this is just one that we have had experience with being successful in the tribal project development process.
So we developed this one because it's based on decision points, which are really critical. What are the decisions that need to be made and by which decision-makers, who needs to make those decisions, either tribal leaders or project managers? And also what information do you need at those steps to make those informed decisions? We also want to illustrate that there are a number of different points in the project development process at which you can either off-ramp or decide not to do the project. That's really critical. It's always important to remember that if at any stage you're getting information that indicates your project is not going to meet your goal, it's a completely valid decision to decide to delay or rethink the project.
You want to make sure that your goals are clear. So again, going back to the strategic energy planning, making sure your goals are clear from the beginning, to make sure that you don't put project on hold forever, though. And because this is a process we've added in steps, and it's important to understand that the process of developing a project is actually iterative. So you invest a little money—time and money, to determine if there is potential. And then if there is you move on to the next step. And again, at every point you do have the opportunity to stop the project with minimal investment going forward.
So this slide just illustrates the points I was just making. A couple key takeaways here. Steps one, two, and three, your investment is going to gradually increase as you move towards the financial close. And so as your investment increases and as the project moves along, your unknowns—or also another way to think of those is as your risks decrease as you move forward. Once you hit the financial close your investment should start to reduce and then you hit the point of project operation, where revenue begins to pay off the investment.
And so just showing here the project development and financing strategy. And another way to think of this is the five-step project development process. I'll come back to this image repeatedly throughout these slides, but you'll notice that the process is depicted as both a circle and as a straight line, because when you are developing a renewable energy project you may encounter both repetitive processes, as in the circle representation at the top, or sequential processes, as in the line representation. So sometimes you may reach a decision to not proceed on a certain project any further. At that point you will circle back to the project potential and start over with either a revised project or a new project completely.
More broadly speaking, we've categorized the five steps and the processes, which will be discussed as we go through here. So the steps, step one is project potential. Step two is project options. Step three is refinement. Step four is project implementation. And then the final step is operations and maintenance.
So step one: site, scale, resource, and community market potential. When you are determining the potential the key question to answer is is there a viable project here, is there a feasible project here. Different things that you want to analyze are the risks in the project, that could potentially kill the project and bring it to an end. So this is also called the high-level fatal flaw review. Examples of this could be securing the site, who has ownership; confirming the energy resource, so resource assessment; estimating the project economics; determining the markets and potential pathways; and also assembling the right team or the human capital to carry that project forward.
So for example, you want to look for an appropriate site for the project. You might have several different potential sites, but also have some areas that are really off-limits for development at this time, either due to cultural locations or environmental concerns. So it's important to know where those boundaries are. And that's just one example of things that you want to look at as the go/no-go potential there.
And then part of the process for determining if there is a viable project is determining a few key points. So this is really summarized down into two points, but two things to also consider is to whom can you sell electricity and how much will that entity pay for electricity. At this stage you're going to want to start thinking about that.
So we'll move on now to project options. To narrow down your project options you're going to need to identify the final resource and project location, understand ownership structures, what the tribal role is going to be, and the risk allocations, who's going to take on that risk. You also want to narrow down your finance options. You don't have to finalize them here, but you want to understand are you going to go after tax incentives or credits or what kind of partnerships are you going to pursue, how you want to initiate the procurement process here and you also want to gain an understanding and plan for both permitting and interconnection as well as transmission.
So we'll move on now to project refinement. So in this step there are a lot of decisions that need to be made by the tribal leaders. Here's just some of the examples. There's going to be a lot more than this, but some examples are who will be the project developer, how will you select them. And this is often done through the procurement process. Are the permits in motion, has that process begun? And then what are the real costs and financing options for this project? That's often developed by the staff. And at this point is when you want to decide which financing option you will go with. Again, that's a decision that's often made by the tribal leaders.
So looking at the implementation phase now. This can be one of the longer steps in the project development process. In this step you finalize all the partnerships and technology agreements. You're going to complete the interconnection with the utility. You're going to get all the financing in order and also executed so that you can begin building the project out. Now when the project implementation is done, and this is often done by the developer if you have one, the renewable power project is commissioned and then the operations begins.
And so now we'll look at the operation maintenance, often referred to as O&M. This is the long-term care of the project. And overall this step is the longest, because it spans the entire life of the project. So after implementation and commissioning and once the project is operational O&M begins. So depending on the role selected by the tribe the renewable energy asset may be managed by a third party or by the tribe itself, it can happen either way. And oftentimes that depends on tribal capacity or if it's easier to have a third party do it.
So O&M cost for renewable power plants do tend to be much less than fossil fuel plants, just because there's typically no fuel costs, with the exception of biomass. However, there are maintenance costs to consider. Those do include equipment and maintenance and upkeep, including using water, for example, to clean PV panels off, as that picture shows. Gearbox replacement, in an example of a wind turbine, or inverter replacement in the case of solar PV.
There's going to be insurance considerations, you're going to have labor and staffing considerations and then you're also going to have extended warranty agreements. Oftentimes a developer partner will have this in their proposal or the tribe might—if the tribe has a partner.
And then finally revisiting the energy plan. You want to check back in with your strategic planning document and update as necessary. So project was implemented, it's underway, go back to your strategic energy plan and mark that project as completed and mark that you're working towards a goal. And then as more data on that project is collected, over the lifetime of that project you can update your goals in milestones.
One thing I would note is this is a really high-level overview of the project development framework. It's really important to remember that this process is iterative and involves increasing refinement of information in order to know if the project is going to achieve the tribe's goals.
So as I mentioned, this is really high level. DOE on their Office of Indian Energy site does have foundational courses that get into a lot more detail than I did during this presentation to provide an overview of—some of the courses you can find are an overview of specific renewable energy technologies, more information on strategic energy planning, and also grid basics. There's also leadership in professional courses that provide in-depth information on the components of the project development process and existing financing structures. It's all up on the site, publicly available and free to use. I highly recommend checking that out before your tribe or village pursues this.
And so with that, thanks for listening in on that. Happy to answer any questions at the end of the presentations. And I'd like to turn things over to the next speaker.
James Jensen: Thank you, Sean. That was excellent. I'm going to now bring up the next set of slides for Ms. Box. Just hold on one moment.
All right, there you go, Ms. Box. Should be ready to go.
Lindsay Box: Great. Good morning, everyone. I would like to thank James for his support. All the pre stuff that we did to make sure that this webinar is successful, and I definitely am grateful for the opportunity to speak on behalf of my tribe and talk about how the Southern Ute Tribe accomplished this new energy pact.
So we can move to the next slide. So the Southern Ute Indian Reservation is located in Southwestern Colorado. We are a federally recognized tribe and we have over 1,500 tribal members. We are the largest employer in the county, with over 1,500 employees. The Tribe began oil and gas leasing—well, let me backtrack. In the 1920s and '30s there were extensive oil and gas exploration that began in the northern portion, it was the New Mexico portion of the San Juan Basin. Oil and gas leasing commenced in the late 1940s under the supervision of the BIA. In 1951 the first successful well was drilled southeast of Ignacio in the Dakota Sandstone Formation. The Tribe at that time was really desperate for revenue, and so we actually held a dance on that site to ensure the well's success.
At that time BIA handled all of the business negotiations and US Geological Surveys. And they were in charge—the US Geological Surveys were in charge of collecting our royalties. For approximately 25 years we held—I'm sorry. Or maybe we can _____ here. For approximately over 25 years we held lease sales and issues standard form leases approved by the BIA. Because of the concerns that our mineral resources were not being properly managed by BIA, the Southern Ute Tribe imposed a moratorium on future leasing between the years of 1974 and 1984. In 1976 our tribal council was concerned about the royalty collections by the US Geological Study and we contracted with someone to conduct audit royalty collections.
At this time the Tribe undertook the audit for the royalty computation and payments associated with our leases, and this revealed gross neglect and underpayment of many of our leases. This resulted in the enactment of the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act of 1982. We also, through a combination of self-funding and assistance from the BIA Minerals division, we began a disciplined evaluation of the leased and unleased resources underlying our lab. In order to conduct this evaluation we hired experts and started a tribal energy resource office. We gathered understanding of the scope and extent of our resources and through their efforts we established a computerized database from which we could generate maps and lease information. Congress passed the Federal Oil and Gas Royalty Management Act of 1982, authorizing tribes to engage in direct negotiation of the oil and gas leases.
Please move to the next slide.
So the Tribe's economic success came from its natural resources and the extraordinary vision of our leaders that were sitting on tribal council. Early efforts to develop minerals while under BIA provided little economic benefit to the Tribe, which when we undertook the audit the Tribe embraced self-determination and assumed the task of managing our own resources. Initial economic development was the result of the development of energy resources on the Reservation, such as natural gas. And in 1999 the Tribe adopted a financial plan which provided systems to manage the tribal government. The Tribe then created the Growth Fund to build financial strength for the Tribe and the Tribe's future generation. After the audit, knowledge from the experts with the help of the Indian Mineral Development Act of 1982, we entered into a series of mineral agreements in the 1980s with major companies or other large independents.
You can go to the next slide.
So when the tribe created the Growth Fund we currently have about 460 employees operating in 12 different states and in the Gulf of Mexico. We have a diversified portfolio as part of our financial plan, and that portfolio includes oil and gas exploration and production; gathering and processing; real estate investment and development; private equity investing; and tribal utilities such as water, wastewater, natural gas, and trash.
You can go to the next slide.
One of the offshoot companies of the Growth Fund is Red Willow Production Company. It was formed in 1992 to manage the assets on the reservation only. In 2000 we began our off-reservation operations, and in 2005—I'm sorry, there was two conflicting dates.
You can move to the next slide.
So the Tribe I think in 2006 started to consider alternative energy. And they did very thorough research to understand whether this was a good fit for the Tribe. They had agreed that this is a part of the Tribe's overall plan to diversify their business, and the individuals of this team that the Tribe put together considered this as a diversified investment and started looking into this solar energy, like I said, in 2006. The Tribe does have the solar resource and we've completed the feasibility work required to make sure that a project like this would be successful.
Technology started to become economical in our area and solar costs dropped over 60-percent over the last five years. The Tribe undertook a yearlong study to look at a broad range of solar energy options. The Tribe looked at various goals identifying lab and buildings best suited for solar projects. They also wanted to identify if utility or commercial scale solar was viable, as well as identify needed conditions for economically viable projects, such as the utility scale, wholesale energy, ground mounts greater than one-megawatt, commercial scale, net metered, roof-mount, or less than one-megawatt.
So we identify or we use the site-based parameters that impacted energy generation and development cost service. We worked to identify potential sites and narrowed it down to one, an area—we identified—narrowed it down to eight areas. Something else we had to consider was the permitting and land access as well as the utility project negotiations, determining power usage and then finalizing our design.
You can go to the next slide.
So part of our feasibility study, we conducted this study, as I mentioned earlier, over a yearlong process and identified some goals. The goals were to identify labs and buildings best suited for the solar projects, identify if utility or commercial scale solar is viable on the Reservation, and the needed conditions to make sure that it was economically viable. We wanted to ensure that we did a high-level analysis of solar energy opportunity within the reservation boundaries and then we also, as part of that solar feasibility study, we identified the most suitable areas for a utility scale solar, because that worked best for the tribe.
We utilized site-based parameters, but we used site-based parameters that impacted energy generation, development cost and/or development risk, such as proximity to transmission infrastructure; proximity to roads that we have; the topographies such as the slope, the aspect, any flood plains, which we have on our reservation; the solar resource; land ownership; habitat for threatened and endangered species; among others. We also utilized, as Sean mentioned earlier, GIS data, and we developed a parameter-weighted scoring methodology to compare sites.
If you go back one slide you can see the map that the Tribe utilized in order to see whether this was viable, it was a viable resource for the tribe. You can move forward again. Thank you, James.
Something else we had to figure out was the permitting and land access. So when we were looking at it from an environmental scope we knew that we had to go through NEPA and make sure that we were eligible for a categorical exclusion due to early farming and ranching activity, which disturbed the land that we had identified. We also looked at the lens of Geotech. And the difficulty for this project, given the extensive nature of the soil, we also utilized an outside contractor that took extra care of this evaluation. When it came to land lease and rights of way we wanted to ensure that we had the right to use and access the land, so make sure that we were using trust land. Our Reservation is checkerboarded, and so we have pieces of land that are Tribal trust and we have pieces of land that are fee land, and so we wanted to make sure that this project was on Tribal trust land, which also triggers that federal review and approval.
Some other complexities with the land lease and rights of way were BIA water digits, neighboring private property, utility rights of way and infrastructure, and oil and gas infrastructure that actually sits right beside our solar farm. We finally identified a clean 40 acres for a 10-acre project. Then we moved on to the utility project negotiations, and some of the discussions included an interconnection agreement. So we negotiated with the local electric utility, defining the terms under which a project connect to the grid. We also discussed a willing agreement, discussing the cost and terms by which energy will be delivered to a distant buyer and end user. And then we also discussed the power purchase agreement, and this defined that the rates of the project will be paid for by the energy and provided—I'm sorry, it defined the rate that the project will be paid for the energy provided to the buyer.
We also wanted to figure out which building would benefit from a project like this. We had about ten buildings identified, and these buildings were selected due to their location and ability to offset greater than 15-percent of fuel usage through electric savings alone. With the ground mount facility in agreement with LPA to credit the energy generated to the building the Tribe had decided upon. So we narrowed it down to two buildings, which was our Growth Fund building and our community center.
You can move to the next slide.
And this is a picture of our councilmember, his name is Kevin R. Frost, along with the individuals from the Southern Ute Growth Fund team, who manage this asset, and Governor Hickenlooper. Governor Hickenlooper came last summer to visit the project.
To wrap things up, some really important things to take away is that you definitely have to have a diverse team to make sure that you have technical staff with subject matter knowledge. You definitely want to make sure that you're working—you're trying to reach out and hopefully working with energy companies. You want to ensure that you do a complete feasibility study to make sure that this sort of endeavor works best for your tribe and how you're going to implement it and make sure that it's longstanding.
You want to explain and identify/define the benefits to the users, so we wanted to make sure that after we had built this we had an opening celebration where we invited tribal members and they were able to ask questions, but we also had a couple of articles ran through our tribal newspaper and we shared links to those articles on the Tribe's Facebook.
You want to make sure that you're checking utility rates. Just like the tribe did with its natural gas production, you want to make sure that you're receiving adequate compensation. You want to determine that your resource is consistently available.
And last, whoever you partner with to build your panels or whatever project you're doing, discuss the marketing campaign, such as will they hire someone to take videos and photos for the benefit of their use so they can market their company, but also for the use of the tribe, which we're currently undertaking.
And that's all I have.
James Jensen: Great. Thank you, Ms. Box. Next I'm going to bring up the next set of slides for Ho-Chunk, Inc. Hold on one moment.
All right, there they are. So you're all set Alexcia and Ann Marie.
A. Bledsoe-Downes: Thanks, James. This is Ann Marie. I'm going to open up the presentation and then about a third of the way through I'll hand it over to Alexcia. I want to start by thanking DOE and all of the partners for this webinar today and to my fellow presenters; it's been great hearing the information thus far. I hope we can contribute something to the conversation and looking forward to the last presentation as well. And then of course all of you who are taking time out of your day to listen in, I hope you find some value in our presentation.
I'm going to start off by sort of introducing who we are and where we're at, where we're talking to you from today. Ho-Chunk, Inc. is wholly-owned and operated by the Winnebago Tribe of Nebraska. I am a Tribal member. Winnebago is a small reservation in Northeast Nebraska. We'll start with the first slide, or next slide, I should say.
We are kind of—we're along the Missouri River where Nebraska, Iowa, and South Dakota intersect. We have about 5,000 enrolled members; I think we're just a little higher than that right now. Less than half of that live either on or near the reservation. Housing is a big issue here, so a lot of folks live near the reservation, outside the reservation borders, or the local what we call Siouxland area, which sort of comprises North Sioux City, the City of Sioux City in Iowa and South Sioux City. So relatively small reservation. We are about 116,000 acres. We are an allotted reservation, so we were a tribe that was both removed and subjected to the allotment era policies. On the next slide you'll see that it was the Treaty of 1865 that brought us to Nebraska from the Wisconsin area.
A little bit about our governmental structure. We have nine tribal members on our council. They each serve three-year terms and those are staggered terms. And I mention that because one of the big things that our boss, our leader, Lance Morgan, who is the CEO of Ho-Chunk, Inc. really impresses upon other tribes that come to visit Ho-Chunk, Inc. or Winnebago about how we've been able to achieve some economic development success outside the gaming arena in a small reservation in a rural area that like this is that it has a lot to do with political stability. And so our governmental structure, we are an IRA constitution, but our governmental structure has some stability built into it, and part of it is because of the staggered terms. And that allows our corporation to also enjoy some stability. And as we know, unfortunately a lot of times political instability in tribal communities can really impede progress. So I mention that here to sort of key up sort of the broad strokes that allow us to do what we do.
The officers serve a one-year term, so that does create a little bit of instability because the chairman may be serving a three-year term, but they may not be the chairman for that entire three-year term. So we do see some difficulties with that and challenges with that, I should say, in making sure everyone is informed and we're communicating with the right officers on it at any given time.
We have a number of institutions on our reservation. We have an IHS facility. Our tribe is currently considering 638ing that facility. Many of you may be familiar with the huge issues that we're having in the Great Plains with IHS. Unfortunately, Winnebago has felt the brunt of those difficulties. We do have a tribal college. We have the only educare facility serving Native Americans. That's a birth to five facility. We have a non-profit in town, the Ho-Chunk Community Development Corporation. And we just I think last year have a CDFI that started. And I mention that—Lance often says we're a community of institutions—and why that's important is that this really increases our capacity to build partnerships across the reservation, because we can work with each of these institutions, each of the leaders across these. There are more; I just sort of listed a sampling here. And we have immediate partnerships that are built in, and then those partnerships make sure that we have access to more stakeholders across the community in a much kind of simpler and more streamlined fashion. So that's really important to us and has helped us in our planning efforts.
It also means a second thing, which is our ability to gain access to resources, right? So the non-profit can help us with grants and resources. An earlier presenter talked about making sure you have grant-writing expertise on your team. That comes to us through the Community Development Corporation. We contract with some of the technical experts and then we have leadership stakeholder representation across some of these other bodies across the reservation that help us with our planning efforts and can have access to other kinds of grants and other resources and other potential financing partners. So that I thought was a good background of just how we've been able to kind of launch into this area.
The next slide gets to kind of a snapshot of Ho-Chunk, Inc.. Where we are located, our headquarters is here on the reservation in Winnebago, Nebraska. We started in 1994 with our current CEO, who was the first CEO, that was Lance Morgan. He is a tribal member. But we've now grown with the support of some government contracting and some other business expansions to well over 1,000 employees. And the states and foreign countries is an ever-moving target as contracts change, but that was the last count we had there.
The next slide talks a little bit about our internal structure at Ho-Chunk, Inc. Our board of directors consists of five members; two of them are council members. And so again, structure really matters here because stability is the key to any venture, and energy development is no different. Of our five members, having two of them be council members is really important because that keeps the communication flow from the company to the council and really helps minimize some of the disruption when Tribal members or Tribal programs or others maybe, you know, don't feel informed about what's happening, people at the council table can just look to the council members who are board members and they don't have to wait to call Lance down or myself down or another member of our team. There's sort of quick responses and access to information that way. And that's been a real key to our stability as well.
So our focus is economic development. Our, meaning Ho-Chunk, Inc., our company focuses on economic development. Our growth really started with sort of what I call the traditional, you know, Indian Country businesses, like tobacco and gas. We started to expand a little bit later into some hotels and we bought an interest in a modular home company. We still have that interest today and it's been really critical to our housing expansion efforts here in the community. But our real growth and ability to access capital came with the profits we were able to generate when we ventured into government 8a contracting. And we've been able to develop two divisions within the company that have been very successful at this. And we're still learning and growing in that area, but it has been a huge strength for us to be able to do a variety of things.
And on the next slide I talk a little bit about what some of those things are, including our housing initiatives. We have a scholarship program. We try and do other community things like financial literacy. We just did a home-buyers class to help folks learn how to improve credit, you know, what you need to do to get a mortgage, all of those kinds of things in an effort to try and increase home ownership on our Reservation.
But despite our focus on, you know, economic development and profit—making, we obviously have—I guess we were corporate responsibility before corporate responsibility was cool. I mean as a tribal corporation our key or our primary focus is on improving the lives of our tribal members and our tribal community. And so the company began expanding into these housing, education, and other initiatives once we were able to invest capital in them. And like any small reservation who had the history we had, I know it's a completely different community now than it was when I grew up here in—well, I graduated in the late '80s, I'll just say it. [Laughs]
You know, so we have a lot to overcome. And so it's great to set a goal of, you know, home ownership, or I love the Blue Lake example of 100-percent self-sufficiency. You know, wonderful targets and we're absolutely capable of achieving that and getting there. But, you know, we have to bite it off in little steps and as Lance says, "In order to do one thing you have to do everything." And by that, for example, with the home ownership, you know, we started a little car sales company so that we could help tribal members improve their credit, because we realized a lot of credit problems were created by some predatory practices in the auto ship dealers in the local area. And we had to fix that in order to increase home ownership. So, you know, we invested capital in standing up that auto business.
So in order to do one thing you have to do everything, and so we dabble in a lot at Ho-Chunk, Inc. and renewable energy is no different. And so over the course of the past couple, three years we've began to figure out what that looks like for Winnebago. And going onto the next slide I'll talk to a little bit of the lessons learned we have had in that. We actually started with wind. So we did—in the process that was described in Sean's presentation, I would say we've done pieces of that really well. We've done all of the pieces, some of them really well, and some of them maybe not quite so well, right? We've definitely had some starts and stops along the way and we've gotten better for it.
And starting with a wind investment, which was much more of a kind of more I would say less community scale and more commercial approach, and that wasn't a good fit for us and we learned that after a couple of missteps. That program or that initiative didn't really serve us well. The high maintenance cost, what the going rate was, and all those things just didn't make it a good fit for us. And so we started to shift to solar a few years ago and got a couple of small grants to sort of expand solar on buildings within the community. And ironically enough, even with that little start we were leaders in the state of Nebraska. And then we've just built on that.
So we took the lessons learned from those first couple of investments, we started capitalizing on the partnerships that we had available to us and the capacity that was in these other organizations and institutions across the reservation, and built this, you know, group of stakeholders and community members with a real interest in growing renewable energy on a community scale level in our community. We did start with small projects, like I said. The grants helped offset the cost and the maintenance is better on solar than it is on wind, and we've benefited from that a lot.
And on the next slide, I know this was referenced in the earlier presentation as well, keeping the stakeholders informed as the process goes along, making sure people feel included in the process all along the way is really important. I make sort of a general statement here, you know, tribal communities are not always the best planners; there are some who are great and some who are not. So there's definitely best practices out there to learn from the other tribes in the planning arena. But as a general note, right, like we tend to be sort of reactionary to the opportunities that come to us. We've gotten a little bit better at that here, like I said, after some starts and stops. And I think that's' really improved our ability to expand in this area and I'm really looking forward to what comes next for us.
In a second Alexcia is going to talk through what our most recent project looks like here, and it's been a huge—we're adding a lot of capacity across the reservation and it's super-exciting. We've been able to keep people informed and fired up about that. My position, my division here is only about eight or nine months old. The company, like I said, has been doing community initiatives for a long time, but it's been sort of very, you know, piecemeal-driven across the company, and my job is to bring an umbrella to that work. And through that we realize that communication is really, really critical to any initiative or any venture we're taking on, including this renewable energy solar panel expansion that we've done in the reservation.
So we have, to the extent possible used, we've stood up new social media accounts. We're using technology anywhere and everywhere we can. We went out to the little solar farm we had and we did a Facebook Live session. All of those kinds of things. But we also recognize, and the community responded to those and said, "Hey, you know, there's a lot of people who don't use this. We want to know what's going on." And so, for example, getting information out to our elders has been really, really critical. And so, you know, we'll make personal visits to the senior center on any given day to try and give updates as well as put information on the tables there so that they have access to it.
And I just can't, you know, understate the value in making sure the community feels involved. And sometimes we think we're doing it well and we still realize, you know, it's not enough; there probably never is enough, but it's important to make those efforts and I think we're getting better at it, so that's good news.
And then I think it was said earlier, you know, make sure that the tribal council has signed off on any of your plans. But beyond that, council turnover happens, new elected leadership comes in or leadership positions might change, and so always, always, always include the tribal council. You know, if you can invite them to meetings, even if they're not able to participate, the invite alone with a quick snapshot of the bullets or a recap of the meeting on e-mail, the information is there and accessible to them when they come back and digest it. And so making it as easy and convenient is really, really critical.
So like I've said, we've had a lot of lessons learned and we've done some things well, and some things maybe not so great, but we are really thankful for the opportunity that we've had to improve our reservation in this way and we look forward to more.
We're going to move into the description of the current project we have and that's going to launch with a little video that I think James is going to play for you all. It's a few minutes long, and then Alexcia is going to jump on after that and sort of walk through the outline of the project. So I will turn it over to the video.
[Inaudible background conversation]
A. Bledsoe-Downes: Hello?
James Jensen: We have a lot of feedback. I'm not sure whose line that is.
A. Bledsoe-Downes: Okay.
James Jensen: I believe that's from Lindsay's line. Lindsay, are you there?
All right, I've muted that line. Go ahead, Alexcia.
Alexcia Boggs: Hi. This is Alexcia. Thank you guys for taking the time to watch our video. We want to show that because not only does it tell a story of the Winnebago Tribe and Ho-Chunk Village, but it also highlights some of the solar that we have on pretty much almost every building that you've seen in the video. That video is actually an older clip. We are in the process of updating that, so then the next drone footage will have even more solar on it.
And so what I'm going to do is I'm going to talk a little bit about our 2017 grant that we received from DOE and I'm going to kind of just kind of breeze through some of the highlights of our last award. You know, as Ann Marie stated, Ho-Chunk, Inc. is dedicated to creating one of the largest renewable energy sources or infrastructures in the state of Nebraska and in the Winnebago community itself. Some of the highlights we have of our project, we have over 1,000 solar panels across 14 different sites. And what we're really excited about is saving the money that we save. So far it's $40,000.00 annually and growing, and then it also just basically—hopefully one day we can increase our reliance on energy and maybe we will become 100-percent self-sufficient one day.
Our 2017 award, our project was a total of $700,000.00. As you all know, it's a dollar-to-dollar match, so Ho-Chunk, Inc. matched half of that, $395,000.00. Let's see. If you want to go onto the next slide there's kind of the breakdown that I just mentioned. And we did receive two awards. We applied and I think there were 13 total that were awarded. After we did receive our two awards we worked with DOE on combining it into one award. And we focused on two initiatives. Our overall was to install it's actually 287 kilowatts on the Reservation, with most of those going to solar that Ann Marie talked about earlier. We've been shifting a lot of that energy towards solar. And then we also had a windmill that we actually have been needing some additional maintenance, and so we have five kilowatts that are going to windmill as well.
And then we have a building that is a brand new building in the Ho-Chunk Village. It's a live work building, it's a mixed-use building that has seven apartments on the second level and then we have commercial tenants on the first level. And that also had a roof mount of 25-kilowatts on that.
You want to go to the next slide?
And I'm not going to read all of these, but as you can see, you know, we tried to fit as much solar panels as possible in this grant application. So we have I think was it 17 sites total, but some of these already have solar, and so we just added more to that capacity of the building. And so I will go into more of these projects in detail on the next few slides.
The live work building, this is the mixed-use building that I talked about that is probably one of the newest building in the Ho-Chunk Village. We've installed 25 kilowatts on the roof and the total cost of that was $75,000.00.
Next slide please.
Woodland Trails. This actually is the home of our non-profit communicate—or what is it? Ho-Chunk Community Development Corporation is where this home is. And we also did some additional solar panels on the roof. And altogether 25 kilowatts at $64,000.00.
And the next slide is Rock River. Rock River is our tobacco manufacturing company. And we added 25 kilowatts of solar to the roof. It's going to save this business $4,000.00 a year, which is fabulous. Altogether, once again, very close to that $67,000.00 range.
Walthill Foods is a gas station/grocery store located on our neighboring tribe's reservation, it's on the Omaha Reservation. We do own this gas station/grocery store. We did do a 25-kilowatt system on the roof and it cost about $63,000.00. And as many of you know, some of these buildings are very old and so by adding these renewable energy sources to these older buildings, it's going to really help out this local business for some of their energy savings.
And the next project is we did the Pony Express and the Titan Motors. Titan Motors is our Reservation car dealership and Pony Express is our gas station located on the Winnebago Reservation. This was a pretty exciting project; it was our very first ground mount system. And you can't really quite tell in the picture, but there's two rows of solar panels and there are I think two sets of 25 kilowatts. This was probably our most expensive component of our project that came out about $218,000.00. And it's really nice, this sits kind of at the edge of our reservation, so when you're coming in you see this, you know, these ground mounts, which is pretty exciting to see when you pull in.
Rock River Distribution, this is actually our distribution company. They distribute Native American-made products, tobacco products across Indian Country. We also added additional solar units to the roof, 25 kilowatts, and then we also worked out an agreement with Nebraska Public Power District to buy some of this. And so we total we spent about $46,000.00 on this component of our grant.
So next slide is talking about Heritage Foods. This is a local grocery store located on the Winnebago Reservation and it's also a gas station as well. And this I believe also had 25 kilowatts added to the roof. And once again, it's going to be any savings that we can do for energy will help out this location tremendously.
And because we wanted to try to hit as much as we possibly could, we also put some solar panels on a couple of the tribally-owned businesses or facilities. We have a building that's located on our pow-wow grounds that the veterans use and we completed this roof mount and we put seven kilowatts on this facility.
And the next slide talks about the Renaissance Building. This is the Winnebago Language Program is officed here, and we were able to squeeze 21 kilowatts on that roof.
All right. And so some of the other sites that we were able to put some solar on, we have the senior center, senior housing, and then we have the Tribal Planning Building and the Little Priest Tribal College replaced two wind turbines as well, for a total of five kilowatts. So just kind of, you know, wanted to talk a little bit about each one of the components of our 2017 grant. And the next slide is kind of a nice overview of kind of like the projects in themselves as well as the status. This is actually almost everything that we said we were going to do in our grant, we did. We just really have completed our last task for this project and we are just going to be moving into the monitoring and ongoing compliance of our project for our 2017 award.
And I will probably shift it over to Ann Marie so she can kind of close our presentation and talk a little bit about our future plans.
A. Bledsoe-Downes: Great. Thanks, Alexcia. So real quickly I'll just wrap up by saying we're hoping to do more of the same. I think the lesson I learned in Sean's presentation was that we have objectives. I don't know that we have measurable objectives. We might want to go back in our planning and sort of reevaluate that, but our goal is very much more of this, more of the same. We found the sweet spot, so to speak, and we want to continue to do more of that. We are going to do some additional housing expansion in Winnebago. We just purchased the 40 acres just north of the Village, where all of the drone footage that you saw was. So we're going to start doing more additional housing units and we're going to need to come up with a plan and needs assessment for what's happening there. And I very much expect us to continue on this trajectory going forward.
And it's just really important that we continue to find additional partnership and financial opportunities to help support this work. Because despite the fact that Ho-Chunk, Inc. has had a very successful 20-plus years in its history, the needs here are great, and so making sure we have enough capital to invest in all of the things we want to, like the education and the housing units and the down payment assistance and the solar expansion, the grants have been absolutely critical in making sure we can keep this a priority for our community. So we're super-thankful and grateful for this opportunity and really happy we could take the time to share with this you all today. So that concludes our presentation.
James Jensen: Thank you, Ann Marie and Alexcia. I really appreciate you sharing your experiences there. I'm going to bring up the next slides here for Brian.
Brian Lipscomb: James, it might work quicker and I'll keep us on track a little closer if I can have control.
James Jensen: Okay. Go ahead. You have control now.
Brian Lipscomb: I'm not sure I'm seeing it yet, James.
Okay. Got it. Do I have control now, James?
James Jensen: Yes, you have control of my screen.
Brian Lipscomb: Okay. I will proceed. Thanks, folks, at the Department of Energy, for inviting me to participate in the webinar. This is about the second or third one that I've done, so hopefully it's not a repeat for a lot of folks.
I've got about six areas that I'll cover for you today. I'll talk a little bit about what we've achieved, a little bit about the asset that we have in our possession, why we've gone down this path, how we got here, some key decisions that we made along the way, and then finally where we're headed from this point as we go forward.
As James said As James said in my introduction, my name is Brian Lipscomb; I'm the CEO for Energy Keepers, Incorporated, or in Salish it's SXʷNQ̓EʔELS L SUW̓EČM; and in Kootenai it's KSUKⱠIⱠMUMAⱠ ʾA·K̓͏AⱠMUKWAʾITS. Knowing full well that the rest of the world couldn't speak our native language, we have a DBA, which is Energy Keepers, Inc. As we look at the names in both Salish and Kootenai, those words stand for "Those who care for the energy," so just some interesting info about our company.
A little bit about our asset. I don't know if this is working here, James; I don't think I have control. So you'll have to go to the next slide. There we go.
So a little bit about what we've done. In 2015, a little more than two years ago, we acquired the Kerr Hydroelectric Project and renamed it the Selish Ksanka Qlispe Hydro Electric Project. This is a quite impressive project. It is the fourth-largest hydroelectric project in the state of Montana. To give you a sense, Montana as a whole is the fifth-largest statewide perspective in hydroelectric development. Of the states that have hydropower, we have this—we're the fifth in the nation. So it's quite large. It controls a fair chunk of resources that flow across the middle of our Reservation, and so when we acquired it, it's the first time in 80 years that we have had re-control of our resources, Flathead Lake and the lower Flathead River. And in doing so, going down this path, we created 27 well-paid jobs. Most of those are filled with tribal members. And through this ownership and through the corporation that I now run, the CSKT will realize all of the economic benefits of this facility going forward.
A little bit more about the asset. Next slide please, James.
The Selish Ksanka Qlispe Dam is a 200-foot-high, 381-foot-long concrete arch facility. There's actually a couple more dams off to the left side of that lower picture that make up the entire aspect of it. There's a little bit of a concrete gravity dam and then a little bit of a earth still dam. Overall there's 208-megawatts of production capacity at the powerhouse itself. If you look in the upper right-hand picture you can see the arch dam located on the right side of the picture, right in the shadow, kind of in the mid part of that picture you'll see a little square building right next to the river. That's the powerhouse actually. So the powerhouse is about 800-some feet downstream from the facility itself.
Overall, 1.1 million megawatt hours per year. This facility is located on tribal land in the middle of our Reservation. It controls the top ten feet of Flathead Lake, which is 1.2 million acre feet of storage.
Next slide, please.
As you look across the basin, the Columbia Basin, the Selish Ksanka Qlispe facility is an integral part of the overall flood control system for the entire Colombia. So up in the upper right-hand portion of the picture you can see what was previously the Kerr facility. So we're the second-highest facility in the basin. And this shows you by size the storage capacity within behind each one of the facilities across the Columbia, and then how far inland it's located miles-wise, and what the elevation is.
We operate this facility during the spring freshet, which is the refill season, in coordination with the Army Corps of Engineers Reservoir Control Center in Portland, Oregon, which manages flood control for the entire basin and the lower 48 states, in coordination with Canada and the Canadian facilities that you see on this picture indicated with the Canadian flag. So as you can see, quite extensive.
Next slide, please.
Overall the Columbia Basin, quite large. Our facility, located in the extreme right upper-end of the basin, as you can see, in Western Montana. The power produced by us and the way we manage our water is coordinated through what's called a Pacific Northwest Coordination Agreement, whereby we coordinate hydroelectric generation on a broad scale over each year with all the other participants in that agreement, extending all the way down through Bonneville, to Bonneville Dam.
Next slide, please.
So a little bit then about who we are as a tribal people and how we got to where we're at. So we're the Confederation of the Selis Ksanka, or Kootenai Tribes, and the Ql'ispe tribes. We're located here on the Flathead Indian Reservation. This Reservation is the center of our aboriginal homeland. This is a treaty—it was established by a Hellgate Treaty, Stevens Treaty, which was negotiated with the governor of the territorial Washington. Some important aspects to this is that unlike our brethren at the Ho-Chunk, Inc., we didn't end up here by a forced nature. This is our homeland and we negotiated it in a peacetime with the United States government to allow development of the northwest. There are several treaties like this across the northwest; we're the furthest inland of those treaties. And I mention this because it kind of illustrates why it is we're pursuing the reacquisition and the reownership of our resources here. We negotiated this Reservation, our forefathers did, to help maintain and perpetuate our culture into the future.
So unfortunately a short 50 years or so after we were created, after this reservation was created, we also were allotted. And in addition then we had our reservation opened up to homesteading. The facility that I just ran through with you was developed during that era, and so it was an immense—through this whole area was an immense taking of resources from this reserved area that was necessary for us to have in order for us to maintain our culture, our religion, and our way of life into the future. So because these things happened all at a time in the late 1920s and through the 1920s the Salish and Kootenai tribes were then stimulated to take matters into our own hands and are also an Indian Reorganization Act tribe. In fact, we're the first in the nation because of the timing of the allotment impacts to us, we grabbed a hold of that, formed our government, and away we went.
And I would echo what the presenter said earlier, that really the success of us as a tribe from a long-term perspective is because of our political stability and the ability to have long-term visions that are maintained from one tribal council to the next.
So a couple of highlights. In addition to reacquiring this asset, we've successfully reacquired land base across our reservation. We were at a low of about 25-percent in the late 1920s, 1930s, just before reorganization. Since that time we've actively reacquired our land base and we're now up over 65-percent. In addition, we've taken over all of the BIA and Indian Health Service programs on the Reservation [audio cuts out from 1:46:48 to 1:47:40]
James Jensen: Okay. Well, Brian, since we can't hear you, let's go ahead and try to answer some questions. And then if you get your audio back we'll go ahead and finish your presentation up.
Brian Lipscomb: So a little bit about the facility itself. As I said, we've been in the process of reacquiring our resources. This was a particularly important one for us. This is the lower Flathead River before the Selish Ksanka Qlispe Dam was constructed. A little bit of a fall there that you can see in the upper photo as we go down through the canyon itself. Pretty significant cultural and religious site, as well as a natural resource—access to natural resources as well.
Have you go to the next slide, James.
A little bit about the history, and I won't go through this entirely; I'll hit a couple of highlights. Hydroelectric facilities are typically licensed through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission if they're privately owned, which this one was. It was originally licensed in 1930. Through that first 50-year license we had a lot of interaction with the company who owned it. And in 1976 we filed for a competing license application through the renewal process to compete for ownership of the asset. This ensued a nine-year negotiation process, which ended in 1985, establishing us as co-licensees for this facility and negotiating an opportunity for us to acquire it in year 30 of the new 50-year license. So we implemented that as soon as we could, in year 2015.
So I won't go through this in detail. There's quite a few interesting aspects to all of it. This is just an overview of it. The photo you see in the left there is the day it was dedicated actually in 1939. You see some of our tribal chiefs standing alongside the dam itself as generation was beginning to take place.
Next slide, please.
A little bit about the strategic planning process. It really kind of ensued over a decade as we led up to the acquisition itself. First of all, we developed some policies, we looked at our opportunities, our limits, and our priorities, started developing capacity and relationships, all while we're also trying to develop the acquisition price and implement the formula that had been negotiated 25 years earlier. Through that capacity and relationships and understanding, then finally we get to business organization, and then a startup phase and then we get to price set and we actually get the project acquired. So quite a sophisticated planning process. I would echo some of the things that you heard earlier, quite iterative in nature.
A couple things I would also note is as you go through this it's very important to understand the business models within the electrical industry and the nuances between the two. And what I'm getting at there is when you look at IOUs, or Independently Owned Utilities, or rural electric co-ops or public utility districts, in all cases all of those are cost-based models. The business model is cost-based, meaning the dollars that those companies deal with are based on meeting their costs. Only one of those is their allowed profit. And in an independently-owned utility, for example, they can recoup enough rates to actually make a profit, but that's only limited to the percentage on their overall investment.
So when we look at that and realize that on our reservation we have—which can be akin to a rural electric co-op—our own utility, and we also take a step back and understand that that utility has 100-percent carbon-free electricity coming to the Tribe at rates that are some of the lowest in the nation, it was clear to us that our opportunity was to take this and go a different direction, which an independent power producer, and bring the electricity to the market, which is a market-based model.
Next slide, please.
This is a good illustration. If you kind of think about it, our project is a generator interconnected with the transmission system. And really I explain to people that the wholesale market is the transmission systems that you're interconnected with. We happen to be connected with Northwestern Energy transmission system. Our customers are primarily large industrial customers across Montana or other utilities that are acquiring off of that Northwestern system and out of the wholesale market, finally bringing it to that retail market down at the residential scale or local commercial scale.
Next slide, please.
So what have we accomplished in the few months since we've taken over? We've successfully managed the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi as an integral part of the overall Columbia Basin hydro system. No small feat, given the fact we had to build models which didn't exist for management; the previous owners didn't approach it as we have. We do some pretty sophisticated hydro models to manage the refill of the lake and the utilization and optimization of the water as we run it through the facility while maintaining appropriate protections for how the river is manipulated below the facility.
In addition, we've performed over $8 million of deferred maintenance on the facility. A couple highlights in the photos you see. We rebuilt a 450-foot access bridge to our powerhouse. That was all pulled off in the first year and a half. We also replaced the thrust bearings for one of the units that was upgraded with the previous owner; they put a stainless steel turbine on the bottom of the unit, which created additional loading, so we had to upgrade those bearings. And what you see is a Teflon-impregnated thrust bearing, which is one of the only ones deployed here in the lower 48 states. They're quite common across Canada. We imported them from Russia and deployed them here. They've served us quite well.
In addition, we've captured most of the Montana industrial load. So we serve about 14 or 15 of the 21 Montana industrial customers, ranging from hospitals to cities to rural electric co-ops to refineries or talc plants, et cetera. So we consider that quite a success on our part.
Next slide, please.
Actually then a little bit about where we're headed. We intend to have the facility completely rehabbed in the next decade. That will be several more millions of dollars spent rebuilding the facility. We are also looking to expand our business and look to provide energy management services across other markets. So if any of you want to examine whether or not getting electricity from the wholesale market is an option for you or one that you can consider through your planning processes, we'd be glad to visit with you about that as well.
That's all I have there, James. I went through it rather fast, so hopefully we left enough time for some questions. I can drill in on any one of these. I always joke with people I can talk about this project for three minutes or three hours, so I'll go with what the folks want to do.
James Jensen: Great. Sounds good. So thank you, Brian. Yeah, let's dive into questions now. We have a few that are pending here, but also feel free in the audience to ask additional questions using the question box on your webinar control panel.
So the first question here, regarding Ho-Chunk Energy's projects, how burdensome has reporting on paperwork requirements been for the granting agency, based on the Tribe's perspective?
A. Bledsoe-Downes: So this is Ann Marie. We've been able to navigate that pretty well. They haven't been too burdensome. You know, there's always some capacity issues when you bring a grant online with the billing system and some of those forms, but I wouldn't say they've been any more challenging than any other grant we've had, and in some respects even less burdensome. So, you know, not bad.
James Jensen: Great. Thanks, Ann Marie. And this is a question for the whole panel or anyone who's interested in responding from the panel, can you discuss the pros and cons of being your own tribal utility company for electrical service on the reservation, you know, versus obviously using, you know, an outside existing co-op or something?
Brian Lipscomb: James, I can take a little shot at that. This is Brian. Of course, as I just described, we're an independent power producer, so we provide electricity to utilities. But I have, of course, experienced our Tribe's management of our own utility here on the Reservation and noted that we set the priorities, we manage that utility going forward, it provides opportunity for tribal employment over the course of time, it increases capacity, because as you're doing the business you understand the business. It has given us good base then for understanding and exploring what we should do with this asset as we've acquired it. And we're the drivers for what energy is provided to our tribe and at what cost. And as I said, we've been pretty successful in that we're 100-percent non-carbon; 99-percent of that is renewable from the hydropower system across the Columbia. And again, it's at a cost that is quite low. Across the United States we're one of the lower ones. And it's really not then a limiting factor for us going forward; from a development perspective we could pursue any kind of development we want here on the Reservation and not have electricity be a limiting factor there, both either cost or supply-wise.
Sean Esterly: The only thing I would add is you have to consider the capacity of the tribe and whether you have the capacity to manage a utility and address, you know, legal, technical, O&M issues that might come up.
James Jensen: Thanks, Sean. And another question for you, Sean, are there any programs or other opportunities for tribes to get assistance with the development of their community NG plans?
Sean Esterly: Yeah, so DOE does have their technical assistance program, you can apply to that. It's out on the Office of Indian Energy webpage under the technical assistance. The form is there. It's a really easy form to fill out and submit and then it goes to DOE for approval. And so strategic energy planning can be done through that. As well as you can check out the funding opportunity tool that's on the website. That has much more than funding opportunities; it has all assistance and opportunities that are open to tribes, so you can look for other planning and technical assistance options that are available through other federal agencies.
James Jensen: Great. Thank you, Sean. So we do not have any other pending questions. We appreciate everyone staying a little bit over for the duration of this webinar, but we'll end it at this time.
Please feel free to give us feedback on today's presentation. Here is a list of the remaining webinars for the 2018 series. The next webinar is Energy Opportunities in Tribal Housing on March 28th.
And with that I thank you again for participating today and we'll hear from you next month potentially. Thank you. Bye-bye.
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