July 28, 2022
>>Wahleah: Good morning, good afternoon to you all. My name is Wahleah Johns, and I'm the director of the Office of Indian Energy, and wanna thank you for your patience. We are trying to work on some technical issues, and hopefully we'll have others be joining soon. And just wanna acknowledge you all for taking the time out of your busy schedules and all of your work that you do as tribal leaders and tribal members. This session, the Tribal Electricity Access and Reliability Listening Session, is about getting more input on challenges around energy access. And this is geared towards tribal leaders, from tribal nations, tribal entities, even tribal members that are also faced with some challenges around energy access. So, I know there's others that might have joined that are nontribal entities, and so, I wanna encourage that you give preference, you know, to tribal voices, to be able to be heard on this panel. I know last time we had a number of people who joined who don't have a tribal affiliation and wanted to speak, and just wanna reiterate that this is for tribes, tribal members, tribal leaders.
So, let's see, we can go to the next slide?
So, the agenda today, we will be doing introductions, our office overview, purpose and background of why we're hosting this listening session today, and also review the data that has been collected. We hosted a listening session on this same topic, back in November of 2021, and after we've shared that information that we've gathered from that first session, we will go into a roundtable discussion where we would love to open up to you all and hear your voices and your input on this.
So, I am the director of the Office of Indian Energy; I was appointed in January of 2021. My background, I'm Navajo, I'm Dine, from northeastern Arizona, and I've been working in the energy space for, I don't know, over 15 years, really trying to figure out, actually, around energy access. And also, just trying to empower our communities to utilize renewable energy at the community scale, but also, the residential scale. And how this benefits our wallets, and also just is a huge learning opportunity for our community and our people. So, and my, also, background is just around organizing, and so, being in this role, it's been really great to be a part of this team that has been doing a lot of the on-the-ground work for over ten years. So, just really grateful for our team, and we're continuing to grow, so, and we'll continue to outreach to you all, to continue that engagement.
I'm gonna turn it over to I think – I'm not sure if David Conrad is on, but he's the Office of Indian Energy's deputy director. David, are you on?
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I don't think he's on. So, he's been having a hard time getting onto today's session. So, David comes from the Osage Nation, and he has been serving in the deputy director role since last November, and it's been really amazing to have him a part of the team. He actually has been a part of the team during the Obama Administration, and also with congressional intergovernmental affairs of Department of Energy as a tribal liaison. So, he brings a wealth of knowledge to this office, but also to DOE, and he also just has been a good team player in the way that we are, you know, trying to build Office of Indian Energy to grow as an office, and then also just really strategic and holistically around energy development. So, I'm really glad that he's part of the team. So maybe he'll jump on at some point during today's session.
I think it's Lizana. Do you wanna introduce yourself?
>>Lizana: Thank you. Yes, thank you, Director Johns. For those that I haven't met, hello, thank you. My name is Lizana Pierce. I've been in the energy development space for about the last 25-plus years, and I've really had the pleasure and the privilege of working with Indian tribes [inaudible] on their energy development for over 20 years now. I'm a mechanical engineer by degree, and in my current position as the deployment supervisor, I support the Office in executing the deployment program, which is composed of financial assistance, technical assistance, education, and outreach. Additionally, I manage the national funding opportunity announcements; they implement outreach through the website, e-mail, newsletters, and oversee the support from [inaudible] laboratories and our other partners.
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And I think it's Tommy.
>>Tommy: Hello, everyone. And I was able to get my camera working today, so I'm here. My name is Tommy Jones, and I'm from Jones, Oklahoma. And my father's side is Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma; my mother's side, Naknek Native Village in Bristol Bay Native Corporation from Alaska. I started working for the Office of Indian Energy as an intern, while I was completing my Ph.D. through the internship offered through Sandia National Laboratories. And after completing that, I started working for the Office as a federal contractor. And then in 2020, I transitioned over to becoming a federal employee. So I work closely with Lizana and headquarters director Johns, deputy director Conrad, and my focus has been energy for a while. So, I'm very happy to be here, I'm thankful to be a part of this office, and welcome, everyone, and thank you for being here.
>>Lizana: So next, we're gonna do an overview of the Office for you.
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So it was advocated for and by the tribes, and it's incorporated in the Energy Act of 2005. The Office of Indian Energy was stood up in January of 2011 [inaudible] about a dozen assistant secretary [inaudible] offices within the Department of Energy. The Office, authorized under the Energy Policy Act of 2005, is charged by Congress to promote Indian energy development, efficiency, and use, reduce or stabilize energy costs, enhance and strengthen Indian tribal energy and economic infrastructure, and to bring electric power and service to Indian lands and homes. To aid us in accomplishing our mission [inaudible] on issues affecting energy and infrastructure development, through the Indian Country Energy and Infrastructure Working Group comprised of tribal leaders across the national. I won't go through each of the pictures on the slide – you'll see a number of them throughout the presentation – of these examples of projects we've been very blessed to have cofunded as partners [inaudible].
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So the Office is comprised of 14 federal staff, at the moment. We've grown significantly in the last couple years. We have staff in Washington, D.C., Golden, Colorado, and Anchorage, Alaska. We also have some limited contractor-supported headquarters and contractor staff in Golden, Colorado, to support the financial assistance grants and agreements across the nation. For the competitive grants, we also have a memorandum of understanding with the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, through the Golden Field Office who supports us in the financial assistance realm, with legal procurement [inaudible] support. The Office also receives support from [inaudible] national laboratory complex, just predominantly the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the National Laboratory and other local technical assistance providers.
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So, the deployment program. To achieve our mission and address the barriers, the Office of Indian Energy offers financial assistance typically for competitive grants, technical assistance which is offered at no charge to Indian tribes and tribal entities, and then an education and capacity building effort. These three prongs are intended to assist Indian tribes and tribal entities to overcome the unique regulatory, technical, and economic challenges to developing their [inaudible] energy resources if and how they so choose.
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Since 2010, DOE's Office of Indian Energy has invested over $114 million in more than 200 tribal energy projects across the contiguous 48 states and Alaska. These projects, with cost share, are valued at nearly $200 million values. Through these grants, the Office of Indian Energy has continued its efforts in partnership with Native community to [inaudible] the deployment of clean energy solutions for the benefit of American Indians and Alaska Natives. The deployment of energy projects in these communities has really had some tangible impacts, which I'll detail on the subsequent slide. By the way, this slide shows the Tribal Energy Projects database, which is on our website. It's an interactive map. They also have sortable tables of all the projects they funded, and summaries and presentations and final reports for those projects, as well.
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So, of the $114 million invested by the Office of Indian Energy, 75 percent or over $85 million has been invested in energy hardware installations or deployment projects within the communities. These projects, valued at $160 million, have really resulted in some tangible benefits for over 100 American Indian and Alaska communities. These impacts include more than 43 megawatts of New Generation installed, over $13.7 million saved every year, collectively. And it's estimated that almost $300 million will be saved by these systems, over the lifetime of the hardware. And for every dollar invested, there is a savings of almost $3.5, so, you know, huge returns on these investments, in my opinion. Have also affected over 8,600 tribal buildings across the nation. And again, more pictures of cofunded projects, each of which you can look more into on the website.
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So in May, the Office of Indian Energy announced $35 million in funding through two funding opportunity announcements that plan to issue a little bit later this summer. The first was a notice of intent to release a $20 million funding opportunity announcement to deploy energy infrastructure on tribal lands. Through the planned follow-up, the Office [inaudible] applications from Indian tribes, including Alaska Native Village Corporation, and regional corporations, intertribal organizations, and tribal energy development organizations. By the way, the eligible entities and eligible land status is really prescribed in our statute as the eligible entity [inaudible] listed. So, [inaudible] is going to be looking for applications that will install clean energy generation systems or energy efficiency measures on tribal buildings, deploy community-scale clean energy generating systems or energy storage on tribal lands, and to install integrated energy systems for autonomous operations, microgrid, if you will, that could operate independent of the traditional centralized electric power grid, either for a single building or multiple essential tribal facilities, during emergency situations, or for community resilience.
So, under the planned funding opportunity announcement [inaudible] will be looking for basically shovel-ready hardware projects for installation, meaning, projects, teams who have completed a feasibility study or energy audits, completed engineering and economic assessments, or what I really like to describe as a comprehensive project plan, if you will. So, the Office of Indian Energy anticipates making [inaudible] under this [inaudible] ranging from $100,000.00 to $2 million for facility-scale projects, and from $250,000.00 to $4 million for community-scale projects. The application window is expected to be about 90 days, and depending on the types and size of the funding requested selected, we anticipate making somewhere from 6 to 15 project selections. You'll find links to the full notice of intent, on the Office of Indian Energy webpage at energy.gov/indianenergy. Please note that under the planned funding opportunity announcement, a 20 percent recipient cost share, a cost share of the total project cost will be required. This is a change in our statutes, whereas, previously, there was a required 50 percent statute.
Additionally, the Office of Indian Energy may provide the opportunity for eligible applicants to reduce that cost share, to not less than ten percent, based on poverty rate and median household income of the community as relative to the statewide median household income. I also wanna bring to your attention that, per statute, the definition of "Indian land" has been expanded to include any land located in a Census tract in which the majority of residents are Native, as defined in ANCSA, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act. And any land located in a Census tract in which the majority of residents are [inaudible] members of a federally-recognized tribe or village. So please review the funding opportunity announcement [inaudible] list of the requirements.
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Also, in May, we did issue a second notice of intent to issue a $15 million funding opportunity announcement, a FOA, this summer, to support powering unelectrified tribal buildings. And again, you can find the link on the Office of Indian Energy's webpage for that full notice of intent. For this planned FOA, the planned cost share will also be 20 percent, as opposed to the previously required 50 percent, and the expanded definition of Indian land would also apply. So stay tuned for more information on those two funding opportunity announcements and when they're issued, and if you'd like to be notified, you're welcome to join our electronic e-mail newsletter, by subscribing on the main page of our website at energy.gov/indianenergy.
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So besides financial assistance, the Office also offers technical assistance, at no cost, to tribes and eligible tribal entities, which includes providing technical advice and assistance from energy experts. It's really intended and designed to help move energy projects forward, or to help communities with their energy planning. As we've realized, the tribes are at various stages of energy development, from maybe just beginning to create an energy vision of what they want their energy future to be, to quantifying their resources, on the other hand, and then, having shovel-ready projects. So the technical assistance supports tribes and tribal communities regardless of where along that journey they are, by providing financial analysis, technical analysis, and facilitate and assisting that energy planning process. The technical assistance was intended, really, as a short-term sort of support to address particular challenges that you may have [inaudible]. To request technical assistance, it's really a simple process: on the website [inaudible] button [inaudible] questions [inaudible] e-mail. We'll contact you, have a dialogue discussion on what your needs may be and how we can help you.
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So, the Office of Indian Energy website, at the URL shown there, has a tremendous amount of informational resources for you, as well, including an energy resource library which has documents and videos and studies and reports, just a wealth of information. We also have some online curriculums for clean energy, both for tribal leaders as well as for tribal staff. We have monthly webinars and periodic workshops. Another resource is the Tribal Energy Atlas, which is really, we believe, was the first of its kind, interactive geospatial application that will enable tribes to conduct their own analysis of installed energy projects and resources from their land.
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And I am going to hand this back over to Tommy, I believe, to talk more about the purpose of the congressional report. Thank you very much for your attention.
>>Tommy: Thank you, Lizana, and we will move forward today.
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So, some housekeeping, here. If you have any questions or comments any time throughout the presentation, you can submit that, and we can address that later, either personally or with the roundtable discussion. After we present the data, we're gonna have an open discussion, and so, if you wanna save your questions for then, or if you have to hop off early, please submit into the question box. And when we get to the roundtable section, the raising-your-hand tab is right there on the Go To Webinar control panel. And so, again, any questions, put'em into the box.
So, the purpose and background of why we are here today is the enaction of the Energy Act of 2020 included specific requirements for the Department of Energy to conduct and research a report back to Congress. And they wanna know about energy access and reliability on tribal lands, so that is why we're here today, to review the data that we have found so far.
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And so, why does this matter? How could it impact my community? What happens from here? The goal of this listening session is to hear directly from tribal members, tribal staff, tribal leaders, community members, on what are the issues, what's the current state, the current snapshot of Indian Country related to energy access and reliability. And so, your voice is important for us to reflect the reality that is Indian Country, and so, that's a big reason why we're here: we wanna hear from you, to help make this report reflect your input and address the real issues that you see in your communities. And in general, why would this matter? Problems can't be addressed unless they're pinpointed and discussed, and we want to work as a partner with tribes to really, to work on these issues together.
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Alrighty, so, to begin, this report is looking at several different focus areas, which we'll go through in the next slides. We [inaudible] language to consult with tribes, and so, we do really value that information that we have received from many folks that have talked to us so far. More information that we could get during this presentation would be great. If there's anything that you see that seems off with some of the data that's being presented, know that it's reported data and that we can fine-tune all of this. So, we do appreciate more information. We have spoken with other agencies, different federal agencies, different groups around the federal complex, to see what kind of data is available, to help inform this, as well. And a lot of this data we have received since our last listening session this past November.
So we can move forward in slides?
And so, now we're gonna talk about the data that we collected in the previous listening session, and what we've collected since then.
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The first part of the report, Section 1, is Generation Transmission and Distribution Assets Available. And so, this was something that we started –
We can go on to the next slide, to describe what it is, actually.
So what do we mean by these assets? Generation resources, conventional and/or renewable, so that could be coal, biomass, natural gas, solar wind, hydro, things like that, so something that creates the energy. Transmission, poles, distribution line, carries the energy, and distribution assets, substation, basically, what's between generation and consumers, transformers, things like that. And a microgrid could have all of these things or several aspects of these assets in one thing, and so, looking at what type of assets like this are available is the focus of this section.
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And that begins with what our office has done here, what Lizana mentioned earlier, there's been over 43 megawatt new generation installed, through our cofunded projects. And most of these funds, thus far, have been for the installation of renewable energy and microgrid systems, energy efficiency measures, and energy planning grants. And they've been across the Lower 48 and Alaska, and we are seeing an increase in interest in microgrids. That can provide communities autonomy, energy, self-sufficiency, and resiliency, allowing communities to mitigate impacts of climate change, and for Alaska, reduce their dependence on fossil fuels in a lot of the rural communities. Again, this has been – DOE has cofunded just over 200 projects across Indian Country, and so, we do have stats on all of that.
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And there's a growing list of tribally-owned or -affiliated large-scale renewable energy projects, mostly in the western half of the United States, and combined, these facilities have a nameplate capacity of over 2,000 megawatts. And that's the potential to power thousands of homes, mostly likely hundreds-of-thousands, and there's large-scale projects that are being planned and in development that extend beyond this list. And so, if your community is building a larger-scale project, just say anything over two megawatts, and you'd like us to know about it, please let us know, put it in the question box, and we can add it to the growing list of large-scale projects on tribal land.
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And when looking at known transmission line data, we looked at contracted HARP data, through the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and it knocked out transmission line data on reservation land, which is primarily in the Lower 48 states. And there was over 16,000 miles of transmission lines known, and the total capacity for these was just over 58,000 kilovolts. And the line capacities range from 7 to 1,000, which is a very big line. Tribal statistical areas, in Oklahoma, the definition of what tribal statistical areas has changed with the Supreme Court ruling, and so, this will be evaluated and the data for Oklahoma can be evaluated differently now. But within the tribal statistical areas in Oklahoma, which I believe there's 27 of them, there's about 30,000 miles of transmission lines. So, within those areas, there's about double that of all reservations combined in – or all reservation data that we have, combined. And so, there's lower kilovolt, over 14,500 capacity on the lines, and the lines are generally smaller, and so, capacities range 69 kV to 345 kV. This may be an indicator of large-scale energy development that's going on to transmission lines, and most of Alaska is not included in transmission data. There's primarily what's called the Railbelt, in Alaska, from Seward up to Fairbanks, where there's a lot of grid connection there. But a lot of rural Alaska is not connected to this – most of it.
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There's conventional energy resources on tribal lands. This is coal produced from 2003 to 2022, up until about February, and the coal produced in 20 – you can see there's a downward trend in coal production, with about 5.5 million tons this past year being produced. And to give you some perspective, that's about nearly 50,000 train cars full of coal. And that's about 1 percent of the total US production.
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So, natural gas, 2021, 337 million cubic feet of natural gas was produced on tribal lands. And some idea of what this means: it could heat more than 5,000 homes. And this is just under 1 percent of the total US production. There are downward trends for natural gas and oil, and from my understanding, since February, those trends are going back up for production, but we'll have to see, when that data comes out.
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And so, oil produced. In 2021, there was nearly 80 million barrels of oil produced on tribal lands, and there is a downward trend in that, as well, which we'll see what the data shows, is it coming back up this year or not. And that's about 2 percent of the US total. The US as a whole produced about 4 billion barrels of oil, and so this is about 2 percent of that.
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Continuing on with community assets. We received data, over the last few years, from funding opportunity applications, and so, all the different funding opportunities that we've had in the last few years, we've had a data collection sheet where we ask general questions about the community, get a snapshot of where they are with energy access, reliability, vision for future. And so, we were able to get a lot of good data out of this, and this stems from nearly 200 applications across the Lower 48 and Alaska, many of which were ultimately funded by the Office of Indian Energy. So, application data, when we asked, within communities, if they were connected to the centralized grid, 77 percent said that, yes, the centralized or nontribal or tribal-related grid went through their communities; 43 percent said that they weren't connected. And this was a very distinct separation between Alaska and the Lower 48: all Alaska responses related to this were indicating that there wasn't a centralized grid, and then one community application from Navajo Nation indicated that there wasn't a centralized grid in their area, as well. And 42 percent of these same respondents had indicated that generation assets were in their community that were not connected to the grid. And so, that is seen as, in many cases, a necessity to have generation within the local generation.
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And so, when talking about the different types of transmission and electrical infrastructure within a community, this last listening session that we had in November, we polled the participants, and there were some communities that stated that they own different portions of generation assets and infrastructure, the poles and lines, and generation asset substations. But overwhelmingly, there was a statement that, in their community, they did not own any of the electrical infrastructure.
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This is about the price of electricity in communities, the focus is retail and wholesale. Particularly, with wholesale, if there's data that we can collect related to what communities are paying wholesale prices, that would be appreciated. The current national average for electricity is about 14.5 cents a kilowatt hour, and we're going to look at, really, how that compares to the tribal communities that we've been able to speak to.
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So, at our last listening session, with the polling data, 56 percent of respondents, when asked what their rates were, responded that it was higher than the national average. And we did get a lot of specific rate figures, and when looking at the total of all the figures that we got, 35 percent were double or more than double the national average. And again, 56 percent of respondents considered cost of electricity high in their community, which mirrors those who said it was higher than the national average. We also asked about electric rates in the application data. Of all the applications that we received, the average is about 28 cents per kilowatt hour, which again is about double the national average. The lowest was 4.2 cents a kilowatt hour, and the highest is 91 cents a kilowatt hour. Particularly in this past year, those prices have gone up, in Alaska, quite high per kilowatt hours, with the cost of diesel, as many of those communities rely on diesel fuel for fuel. And in general, 41 percent of all responses that we received from the applications indicated that their cost of electricity was higher than the national average. And to compound these costs, when asking the community, asking the applicants if the cost of electricity is a burden on the community, 81 percent said that the cost is a burden on their community members. With primarily, by far, the biggest response being because their community members have low income and it makes it difficult to afford electric costs.
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And so, energy burden is something that the Department of Energy looks into, with one analysis tool called the Low-Income Energy Affordability Data tool, and it's called LEAD. So you can look up DOE's LEAD tool. And the index is based on a scale, and in this case, it's from 0 to 14. And so, within what we're looking at, here, is different communities across the Lower 48 and Alaska have a burden of between about 4.87 percent to nearly 14 percent. The average national energy burden is 3 percent. And when looking at the weighted of all tribal lands, it's about 3.85 percent. So, the difference between 3 to 3.85 doesn't sound a lot, but when factoring in the incomes, the higher cost of electricity, it means that tribal land, someone who lives on tribal land is about 28.3 percent higher burden than the average US citizen. And it's harder to pay for bills in a lot of tribal areas, and this data showed that, as well.
So, we're going to look at workforce, now, a description of participation of tribal workers in the electric utility workforce, including the workforce for construction and maintenance of renewable energy resources, and distributed energy resources. And the first thing that we're gonna look at on here –
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– is something called the United States Energy and Employment Report. And there is a 2022 report that looked at data from this past year, and that report indicates that there is about 125,591 American Indian and Alaska Native participants in these various sectors of energy workforce. And what's important to know is, just about every one of these different fields, from solar to coal to energy efficiency, tribal workforce makes up about one percent of each sector. And so, that's what these data reflects, as well. There's about 15 tribally-owned utilities that own their own distribution, and we've found that what we have reported is about 1,200 known workers that are working directly for those tribal utilities. And those numbers would be factored into this, as well.
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It's important to point out that, with the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, it's expected to add an average of 1.5 million jobs per year, over the course of a decade. And let's say Native American and Alaska Native are still 1 percent of that workforce that gets added, 1 percent of 1.5 million is still 150,000, or more than double the current workforce in the energy sector, in a decade. And so, there's potential for these opportunities to go way up.
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So, within our application questions, we asked about the potential short-term and long-term jobs, and we know at the beginning of a planning for a project, that you don't know – you may know, but it may be difficult to predict exactly how many jobs are going to be created. But still, with these projects, applicants indicated that there is nearly 1,800 short-term jobs and nearly 500 long-term jobs would be created. And as a reminder, our projects are typically 2 megawatts and below, and so, for small-scale projects, there are still a lot of jobs that can be created through energy development. And training positions, as well; through these different applications, there's over 1,000 training positions that could come from these projects. And then, I think something to consider, when looking at job creation, is there is cost savings through the grant. There is the cofunded part, the grant from the Department of Energy, that money the tribes otherwise could spend on something else, perhaps job creation. And energy efficiency and cost savings from the projects that get installed, that money can get reinvested in our community, as well.
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And so, when the topic of training in general was discussed with the listening session, this past time, there was not a whole lot of discussion about training, when we got to the roundtable discussion. But when we did ask about what kind of training is needed, specifically, renewable energy, operations and maintenance, weatherization, and energy efficiency were on top. And then, conventional energy. But there does appear to be some indication that there is more training that is needed, and about half of the participants in the last listening session indicated that tribal members were in the energy workforce within their communities.
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So we're gonna look at electricity access, now. And so, the percentage of households residing in tribal communities or on Indian land that do not have access to electricity. And again, we are still looking for feedback on this, so if there's any data that you can provide, that we can better reflect what's occurring in Indian Country, let us know.
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We have reviewed previous reports, to see what kind of data was out there. One that is widely used and widely cited is the Energy Information Administration Report from 2000. That reported that there was over 13,000 unelectrified homes, which, at the time, was about 14.2 percent of all American Indian and Alaska Native homes. This 2000 report used 1990 Census data, which undercounted American Indian and Alaska Native by 12.4 percent to begin with, and so, we do know that there are some flaws in that data. US Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD, we looked at reports, housing needs reports from '96, 2014, and 2017, and while these reports do not specifically ask questions about electricity access, there is data that combines electric access along with other housing needs like plumbing, kitchen appliances, overcrowding. And the estimate, between the different years of the different reports, is between 14 to 23 percent of homes are impacted by these factors. I do wanna mention that the top five, in the EIA report of 2000, for highest percentage of unelectrified was the Navajo Reservation, the Hopi Reservation, Standing Rock Reservation, the Mescalero Apache Reservation, [inaudible] Reservation. And so, there has been a lot of changes in some of communities, in all of these communities, since the 1990 data.
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And so, when we were looking at the polling from the last listening session on unelectrified homes on tribal lands, 47 responded that there are homes that are not connected to the centralized grid or community-scale microgrid. So not connected to the grid, almost half. And looking deeper into this, about 38 percent responded that there is between 1 to 50 homes that were unelectrified in the community, 2 percent said 50 to 100, and 8 percent said 100-plus unelectrified homes. And so, 65 percent responded that existing infrastructure could be extended to electrify these homes. And so, there's homes without electricity, and the perception is that there is existing infrastructure that could be extended to electrify these. And 18 percent of respondents said that, no, there wasn't electric infrastructure to extend. [inaudible] for these questionnaires, about 10 percent on each of'em that weren't sure, which is common; it is difficult to know exactly how many electrified homes that are out there. And so, when we were looking at the barriers to providing electric service to these homes that are unelectrified, the top response is financial; it costs to electrify them. Infrastructure is number two; there's lack of infrastructure present to, or there's just lack of infrastructure owned by the tribe, or different options like that to extend. Planning, workforce, a couple other different areas, there.
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And so, when we looked at the unelectrified homes data from the applications that we received, again, this is nearly 200 applications, it's not completely 200 communities, but it's well over 100 communities. And based on the data that we received, the total number of electrified homes, from those applicants, was 16,805. That's individual homes. And so, when you look at the average household size for Native Americans, this equals about 54,000 people without electricity. So that is a lot of people, 50,000 people without electricity. And the distribution of the unelectrified homes, a lot of communities had 0, 1, but a lot of communities had more prevalent issues with this.
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And so, looking at Navajo Nation and the Hopi Tribes in particular, the total homes for these areas, Navajo Nation is over 68,000, and of those, 14,063, so about 21 percent of all homes on Navajo are unelectrified. And with that estimate of average household size, that's about 45,000 people without electricity. I see that 45,001, so we could start changing 1 today. No, so, total homes on Hopi is 2,500, and so, unelectrified homes, there, is about 878 estimated based on 35 percent of all homes being unelectrified. And so, estimate, that would be about 2,800 people without electricity. And so, between those two communities combined, from just those two, we're looking at about 48,000. And comparing it with our application data, we're currently estimating about 17,000 homes or about 54,400 people without electricity in the US. More data will help refine these numbers, and so, more data is welcomed on unelectrified homes in tribal areas.
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So, the next, energy access and reliability. So reliability can relate to electricity outages, and we asked about electricity outages in our tribal [inaudible] application data, and about 92 percent of communities reported outages. And outage frequency, 50 percent said at least 1 per year, 31 percent outages monthly or more, and this is put into context when you consider the System Average Interruption Frequency Index, or the average amount of outages outside of, like, major events within the United States is 1.6. Some of these communities are having over 100 outages a year, which is, you know, every-other-day. And if you look at the most responses that we received was for 3 outages monthly or per year, so there does seem to be more outages that are occurring in tribal communities.
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And so, some more questions related to this from the application data was the outages in the community, 75 percent said they're occasional, 11 percent said each month, and 5 percent said often each month. And the duration of these outages, 68 percent said hours, 16 percent said minutes, and 7 percent said days. And the primary causes of these outages were storms with 64 percent, 13 percent said inadequate infrastructure, and 13 percent said end-of-the-line or utility-directed. And you can think of that, like, a utility-directed, if there's a planned outage for a utility to shut down powerlines, if there's a natural disaster that causes lines to get shut off, those are counted as outages, as well.
Next slide, please?
So now we're looking at distributed energy potential, and this is the potential of distributed energy resources to provide electricity to households residing in tribal communities or on Indian land. Again, a lot of the projects that are funded through the Office of Indian Energy are smaller solar projects, wind projects, biomass, those sorts of projects, and that's what a lot of this is looking at. But when talking about potential –
– we can go to the next slide –
– a report through National Renewable Energy Laboratory, the Renewable Energy Potential on Tribal Lands, there is quite a bit of renewable energy potential. This report specifically focused on utility-scale large-scale projects, but there was some distributed energy potential discussion. For example, solar, there is solar potential for all tribes across the United States, to some degree. Distributed wind is based on geography and location, for example, the taller the wind turbine, it's going to have different implications for geography and things like that. So, there is potential for solar PV, concentrating solar power, wind, geothermal, biomass, hydropower, and in addition to the conventional resources that we mentioned earlier.
Next slide, please?
And so, when looking at distributed wind and solar potential, in particular, the average capacity factor of newly-installed distributed wind projects of the size modeled in – one second – [inaudible] is 20 percent, the capacity factor of newly-installed wind projects is about 20 percent. And so, for over 75 percent of tribal areas, there's better wind resources than installed in wind projects in 2021, and so, the wind factor in 75 percent of tribal areas is better than when that was set up in this past year. When considering solar potential, the capacity factor for solar PV on tribal land varies from 9.5 percent in Alaska to 27.9 percent in southwestern United States. And for reference, the main capacity factor across the US for residential PV is 15.7 percent, and for commercial PV is 15.8 percent. And as an example, with Alaska, the lower end of the solar PV potential, and Alaska has been many times cited as has similar solar potential as Germany, and that's the fourth leading country in the world, at least in the last few years, for solar, installed solar capacity. And so, there's a lot of potential, untapped potential, in these areas.
Next slide, please?
And so, when we asked specifically about electric generation in tribal communities, 56 percent responded that there was renewable energy generation in their community. And this could be any scale, large-scale or small-scale. And there were 66 that responded that said conventional energy generation in their community. And so, we asked, and this was at the last listening session, if there was a generation preference. And from those that responded, 59 percent said a mix of both types of generation assets is preferred, 33 percent said renewable was what they preferred, and 8 percent said conventional. And that is displayed on the graph, here.
Next slide, please?
So, Section 6 is Tribally-Owned Utility Potential. And so, this is potential for tribally-owned electric utility or electric utility assets to participate in or benefit from regional electricity markets.
First and foremost, there are tribal utilities already in existence. There are at least 15 that own their own distribution lines, as well, and so, most of these are in the western part of the United States, and combined, the estimated meters or customers is about 70,000 reported for these different utilities. So, load being about 430 megawatts, the generation assets reported was about 200 megawatts combined. We do know, with a lot of the planning of larger-scale projects, that that will go up significantly. And that 200 megawatt is equivalent to about 40,000 homes. And again, the workforce for these entities was about 1,200 reported. So, this is occurring already, and it is growing; there seems to be interest in this.
Next slide, please.
And so, owning all parts of an electric utility isn't the only way to engage as a utility or a form of utility. There's tribally-owned electric utilities that do not own the distribution lines, and so they can provide generation assets. There's wholesale generators that sell electricity, tribal energy companies that are owned or operated by tribal communities, and there's some communities that regulate utility or energy services on reservations. And at this moment, there's utilities or utility projects that are in development; there's over 70 that we were able to find, including utility feasibility of over 40. So, over 40 communities, right now, are thinking about utilities. And so, the types of utilities, there's different structures for these, there's nonprofits, for-profits, tribally-chartered, tribal enterprise, an arm in the government, or support through 638 contracting, which is a specific avenue that works with the federal government. The generation assets of these various forms of entities, over 3,000 megawatts, that we could find, which is a considerable amount of electricity.
Next slide, please?
And so, when we asked the attendees at the last listening session about their communities, we asked, "How many nontribal utilities are in your community?" Thirty-three percent said 1, 31 percent 2, 5 percent 3, 22 percent said 4, so over half said that there was more than one utility in their community. And you could think about this in terms of, you know, price – the cost of electricity may be different from one part of your reservation to the other part, outages may occur in one part or not. And so, with more utilities, there may be more different things to address when planning. Current agreement with nontribal utilities such as a right of way, about 50 percent said yes, 27 said no, and 1/4 said that they didn't know that data. And, "Does your community want to own its own utility?" from the listening session, 65 percent said yes, 30 percent said maybe, 5 percent said no. And so, 95 percent of community members, from those communities [inaudible], said either yes or maybe, which I think is significant.
And then – and that is all the data that I have for this report, at this moment. And again, thank you for everyone who's participated, who's provided feedback, provided information. We want to best reflect what the reality is, and so, thank you all for your time listening. And I will turn it back over to our director, Wahleah Johns. [side conversation]
>>Wahleah: Thank you, Tommy, for that overview, and all of the work that you have been putting into receiving comments and input from tribal leaders and tribal communities, and everyone that has contributed from the first listening session. And, you know, again, this focus of today's topic is on energy access and energy reliability, and hearing from communities and nations, even tribal members that don't have access to electricity today, I think that's really important. Because I, for one, come from a community where I can name hundreds of people, thousands, that don't have access to electricity. And, you know, visiting homes, for many years, that don't have access to water or basic infrastructure is astounding, and I understand how frustrating it could be to, just, the challenges of trying to get power to your cellphone, if you have a laptop, to your laptop, to even have access to Wi-Fi, power to Wi-Fi. And then the biggest one for me, I think, is important is refrigeration. I visited many homes that don't have refrigeration because they just don't have the power source.
And I do think that, you know, the Department of Energy, and even this congressional report, is really important, because it's, you know, a lot of data that's out there from 2000 needs to be updated and needs to reflect this topic. Because, you know, the majority of the homes without power in the United States are Native American homes, and, you know, I feel like this is our responsibility to be of support and to come up with this report to even just provide more information to show whoever is making leadership decisions around investment and funding, you know, all of those pieces. And this is really of benefit to tribes, this is really in benefit to the families that don't have access to electricity today. And so, that's how we're interpreting and using all the input that we can, so it can empower your nation, your people to be able to use, and to advocate for. And this is, you know, part of how all of these, even the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, you know, we have congressional leaders that push for certain opportunities and funding to go towards certain districts.
And I think this is one report that can be handy for demonstrating that, you know, there is a need, here, and that many of these families, they pay a lot more for power, based on their limited income. You know, it's ridiculous, and I'm just saying this because I know this, in visiting the communities I come from. So, I just wanna advocate for you to, you know, lend your voice to this session, and if you don't wanna do your voice, you could also write us comments. And I think we have a – there's questions in here, in the chat, and so, we'll be answering those. And again, I'm gonna stress that this, you know, is also geared towards tribal leaders, tribal voices, so, wanna make sure that we prioritize those voices.
So, let's see – I think we're – is there another slide, here?
>>Lizana: Yes, there is a couple slides.
>>Wahleah: All right, next slide. [Laughs]
Well, the Office of Indian Energy, again, with this congressional report, has sparked a lot more interest from congressional leaders, but also, with this administration, in making sure that, you know, we don't leave communities behind. And so, the Office of Indian Energy has prioritized, you know, also, equity as a big part of our portfolio, and so, energy access is a big part of that. And as we mentioned, there's a funding opportunity or a notice of intent for funding opportunity that's gonna gear towards helping energy access, so, unelectrified tribal buildings, and that's for 15 million. We also have an initiative that is supporting tribal colleges and universities to go 100 percent towards renewable energy. There are 37 of them, and we're building our program around that and we'll have, for this year, FY22, we'll have about 10 million set aside for that.
And then we'll have 20 million set aside for deployment of clean energy projects, so this is supporting the transition to, you know, buildings or community to 100 percent clean energy. So, and these are, like, the three areas for FY22 that we've been focused on, and trying to build teams around it, and also partnerships. So, I know in the chat there's many questions around, you know, funding opportunities, and we can answer those, but I feel like, you know, starting with the notice of intent, that's a good place to start. And also, we have tons of webinars that are on our website, if you are thinking about a feasibility study, you can request. If you're a tribal nation, you can request, at no cost, technical assistance from our office. And I think we'll share that information and it's on our website, so we can also help with strategic energy planning.
So, you can go to the next slide.
Again, our budget has, you know, increased from, generally, it's gone in-between 7 million to 22 million, over the past 10 years. And FY22, this year, is our first bump up to 58 million. And again, this has been a huge increase, and we keep advocating for more because we know there is a huge need and there's a lot of projects out there that, you know, we have not been able to fund. And they're amazing projects, but it's because of our limited budget and, you know, we have been advocating for more investment, in our office, in our programs, so that we can continue to be of support to you all and tribes. And addressing some of these energy challenges, but also supporting your energy vision in creating jobs, in creating an economy. And that self-resilience or self-sufficiency and energy resilience is really part of our scope, and so we wanna make sure that we are working in partnership with you all.
So, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, as Tommy mentioned briefly, we have a website, at the Department of Energy, that lists all of the opportunities for energy projects. They range from, there's one, in particular, that's 1 billion for rural and remote communities that comes to mind when it comes to electrification. And so, you can go to the Department of Energy's Bipartisan Infrastructure Law program, and it lists all the opportunities and timeline and announcement dates. Right now, there's several RFIs, out there, that they are seeking tribal input, as well. We also have the Clean Energy Corps, so, this is an opportunity. If you're interested in applying, please – actually, reach out to us if you are actually, if you're tribal, you know, in the tribal clean energy space, just let us know, so that we can, if there's interest in applying for Department of Energy Bipartisan Infrastructure Law Clean Energy Corps job, we would be happy to – I mean, I haven't been tracking the applications, but I think, you know, wherever we're speaking, whenever we're speaking to tribes, we wanna encourage applications.
You can go to the next slide?
Oh, great, we made it to the roundtable discussion. This is a really important part of our session, because we are handing it off to you all to provide feedback during this time, and input that you have, and again, stressing that tribal leaders, you know, raise their hands. And we'll start to take questions or comments. Tommy, do you have a way, or am I handing this back off to you?
>>Tommy: Yeah, we can go to the next slide, and just as a reminder on how folks can either raise their hand to be called upon, or just submit a question on there. And I do believe we have some questions already.
>>James: We do, Tommy. Do you want me to direct these written questions and comments?
>>James: Okay, my name is James Jensen. I am a contractor for US Department of Energy Office of Indian Energy, and I'm gonna help facilitate the questions and comments, here. So, just to elaborate on what Tommy said, you do have the ability to ask a verbal question, and you just click on the icon, here, the little hand icon with the number two next to it on the slide. And when you do that, we'll see that you have your hand up, and then we can unmute your line and you can [inaudible] and you can ask your question verbally. Or we can receive these written questions by entering your question in the question box. And we have received some written questions, so we'll start with those, then if we see hands raised, we'll get to those as we're able to.
So, let's see, so our first question – and of course my question box closed on me – all right, so the first question here, or kind of comment: "Many communities in Alaska are not shovel-ready or don't have shovel-ready projects. We need more startup funds, grant funds be available, to begin the steps of energy planning and feasibility studies. Will there be funding available, in the future, for startup projects?"
>>Lizana: James, this is Lizana. I'll take that question. There are a number of resources for these earlier phases of project development, if you will. One would be the technical assistance that the Office of Indian Energy provides, for strategic planning, for resource assessment, and those kinds of things. Also, within the Department of Interior, they offer a number of funding opportunities. One is focused on energy and mineral resource feasibility studies, and the second is more on organizational development, predominantly, as I understand, tribal utility. So, those are a number of resources. There are also resources under such grants through commerce, so there's quite a few sort of planning grants that I'm aware of that are available, as well as a plethora that are coming out through the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, as well, both technical assistance and funding opportunities through BIL. I hope that helps.
>>James: Thanks, Lizana. We have some hands raised, and so, let's go with vice-chairman Brian McDonald. I'm gonna unmute you, and then you can introduce yourself and your tribal affiliation, and ask your question or make your comment.
>>Brian: Can you hear me okay?
>>Brian: Okay, hey, good morning or afternoon, depending on where you are. My name is Brian McDonald; I'm the vice-chairman for the Chemehuevi Indian Tribe. We're located out here in California along the Colorado River; we share a border with Arizona, as well. I did send in some sort of just high-level broad strokes for you guys, yesterday. I know that they were received. And I apologize, I had to walk away mid-presentation; we had a couple of court rulings come down today, so it was – I had to step away, and some of these questions may have been answered.
You know, I appreciate DOE and what they're doing in trying to assist these tribes. Our problem, many problems, but energy access, right, is probably, or access to enough energy to support real development out here is, you know, always been our problem or challenge. Now, we are served primarily by Southern California Edison, through a, you know, sort of weird outdated, antiquated anyways, fringe arrangement. The power originates out there in the BIA down there in the Parker Plant. So we're kind of at the mercy of two utilities, in a way. We've got our circuit, for Southern California Edison, you know, I gave you guys a little bit of my background in my notes, but literally, worst-acting circuit in southern California.
And, you know, there have always been these ideas about, you know, partners, there's a WAPA out there on the California 95. And I'm looking for direction from you folks to facilitate conversations about how we can get some real redundancy, right? So, if you could – you know, the way we're served is basically – and it's the case for many tribes out there, but in our case, it's, essentially, a 20-mile extension line, right? Or extension cord. And if anything happens along that line, then our entire community is out of power, right? Save the few facilities that we may have with backup generation.
And so, in order to, I mean, I'd like to be able to find a way to work with DOE, whether it's through WAPA or some of the funding that's been available now, to build a real and meaningful project. We are, you know, going through some of the same processes with broadband, right, trying to get access here, but, you know – so, I just wanted to lay that broad stroke out, and make sure that, you know, DOE has my contact information, to work towards some real energy access. I was here at the beginning of the presentation, so I heard Wahleah's comments about her background in working to provide energy access. And that was her first comment, right, that she made, and really, it, you know, lit up some sensors in my brain, because that's a real challenge.
And so, after all of that, I guess the question is: How can DOE help?
>>Lizana: So this is Lizana, and I'll see if I can try to address some of your questions. There is some technical assistance that might be helpful. WAPA would be a good advocate. If you need contact, I'm sure you have them. There's also these formula grants that are coming out for grid strengthening and resiliency, and I would urge you to explore that avenue, because it's a significant amount of money, and there may be some huge opportunities, there, as well.
>>Brian: Yeah, and I apologize because I stepped out, are those out right now? Or are those something we should be tracking? Or –
>>Lizana: I believe, don't quote me on this, I mean, it's on our website, we have a current funding page that's, you know, all of the opportunities coming out, the ones that, you know, specifically for tribes [inaudible] DOE or other agencies, we try to get those posted. As I recall, the RFI, request for information, on that is out; I do believe that, you know, they're seeking information on that. And I don't recall the timeline, but it is on our website. If you have trouble, you know, let me know, and we can point you in the right direction.
>>Brian: Yeah, and I appreciate and I don't wanna dismiss the value in those grants and planning dollars, but I just, you know, I'll take the opportunity just to highlight, you know, the expense, right, of what, you know, connecting to the federal infrastructure might be. Those grants don't typically tend to be in that ballpark, but maybe there are some that are in that ballpark. Again, I know that coffers across a lot of these programs are filled in a different way than they have been in the past; same with the state. We're, you know, working on some solutions, again, through some of those avenues. But I just, right, there's only a couple of ways to get the type of power that we would need, to develop, so, while helpful, I just, right, make some noise here, plant some seeds, and hopefully as, you know, the projects or ideas come across desks, you know, folks are thinking about Chemehuevi. That's really what I wanna accomplish by joining the call today.
>>Wahleah: Great, thank you so much for that. And, you know, we can share more specifically, I think we have your contact information, around definitely the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, as Lizana referred on the grid resiliency piece, that there's a formula, there, for tribes. But we can continue the conversation, but I do appreciate you addressing it here, and wanna make sure that we are helpful in the way that we're – I know grants can be, you know, it sort of can go different ways, but this particular one, this provision around grid resiliency, hopefully can be impactful for you all. So, let's continue the conversation, and I'll make sure to follow up with setting up the meeting.
>>Brian: Thank you so much. I'll defer, 'cause I know there's other tribal leaders who probably wanna speak, so thank you for your time.
>>Wahleah: Thank you.
>>James: All right, thank you all for your contributions. The next question or comment, we're gonna go with Kat Brigham. I'm gonna unmute you, Kat, and then you can speak. [side conversation]
>>Kat: Okay, first, I wanna thank you for all the work that you've done. It's really interesting that, you know, we are, I guess, prioritized, because as we all know, we haven't been prioritized in the past. [inaudible] for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, I guess I'd better introduce myself, first. My name is Kat Brigham; I'm the chair of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation. We are located in eastern Oregon, and we are a rural-area tribe and we have two electricity companies who provide services to the Umatilla Reservation. But at the same time, they follow the Oregon Public Utilities Commission guidelines, and so when we are looking at trying to improve things, they have to follow the guidelines that don't necessarily make it possible for us to move forward on some of the things we'd like to do.
And as we all know, through the Covid timeframe, we all needed to go virtual. And we are not able to get virtual through some of these powerlines, simply because it's not in their system. So, it's really difficult, the Oregon PUC regulations and rules do not allow or facilitate a virtual net metering system, so that cost-effectiveness efficiency [inaudible] capital construction costs and the operations could be directly passed on to the reservation community. And so, we're working on that, but at the same time, you know, this is the state rule, and so, when these state rules or regulations are not assisting tribes, then that's a real problem. [inaudible] are looking at how to reduce our footprint in electricity. We also are exploring, you know, [inaudible] solar and utility options. We're not there, yet, we're not sure we're ready, yet, but at the same time, we are exploring all of these options.
And then also, when the Oregon Public PUC regulations for excess power generates by a net metering project provide that the excess power must either be donated, at no cost, to the electrical service provider, or at only the actual cost of the electricity [inaudible] cost. The rate the electricity service provider should have to pay for this excess power should be the actual retail rate and not donated to free, or at some wholesale rate for only the cost of electricity. So, you know, those are some of the problems that we're having in rural Oregon. Because we are in rural Oregon, the other thing is, these two utility companies are not, I guess, interested in providing upgrading services to our reservation. And so, that's a real concern for us, as well.
Thank you. If you've got answers for me, I'm willing to listen.
>>Lizana: Well – this is Lizana Pierce – we work with many tribes that, you know, have similar problems [inaudible] utility and the state regulatory. I'm getting faint feedback; hopefully you can't hear it. So we'd love to work with you, if you wanna put in a technical assistance request, at least we could maybe help you explore options, or, you know, give you referrals to other tribes that may also be struggling, and maybe finding options to similar problems.
>>Kat: Okay, so we need to put in a request for what?
>>Lizana: Technical assistance request, and you can [inaudible] Office of Indian Energy website, energy.gov/indianenergy.
Or if you go to the next slide, please, Kim?
It also gives our contact information for our main telephone number and our e-mail address. You can contact us there and we can help you.
>>Kat: Okay, all right, I appreciate it, because as we all know, you know, energy is important. And I know on the Columbia River, we have hydroelectricity and it's very energy-efficient, clean air, but at the same time, it definitely has an impact on our natural resources. So I was glad to see some of you are looking at natural resources and how it impacts the tribe, because those are some things that we are paying for now, and that was clean energy, low-cost energy, but it did not look at the environment and how it impacted the environment. And now on the Columbia River, we have 13 listed endangered species of ducks, and we're trying to figure out how to deal with that. So, I was glad to see you were looking at the environment and how it impacts that, the cultural resources, because taking the easy way out is not necessarily a benefit for our children. Thank you.
>>Lizana: [inaudible] thank you for your comments.
>>James: And I would note that we've entered, in the chat, the link to where you can find the technical assistance application on our website, so you should be able to find that live link in the chat. Wahleah, did you have anything to say, or should we move?
>>Wahleah: Oh, I was gonna say the same thing, that we just put the link in the – for technical assistance request, I think, I mean, this is a good place to start. Once you put the request in, there's a form there, and then someone from our office will get back to you. Or you can go to, we have a helpdesk, program helpdesk, 240-562-1352, and you can leave a message, or if someone picks up, we'll be in touch with you and help you. And, you know, you're not alone, I mean, we get questions like this from many tribes that have been struggling around, you know, cost, but also even within the state, and even the current infrastructure, energy infrastructure in the state, some of the challenges and barriers for tribes that wanna pursue clean energy projects or generation for their communities in their nation, but also outside. And so, those are things that we have been tasked with is to try to come up with the strategy that can best support tribes.
And we know that many tribes don't have the staff capacity or energy managers to help them, and we've received a lot of comments, in the past, I know since I've been in this role, for the past year-and-a-half of the challenges, and we understand that. And so, as we are wrapping up our staff and our capacity. Within DOE, they are also gonna be hiring 1,000 people, and some of these people are also gonna be tribal liaisons in different programs, so outside of Office of Indian Energy. So we'll have more support and can better assist. And really, I think, the piece is we understand that rural remote communities are the areas that have been left behind, and, you know, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, as I said earlier, has $1 billion just set aside for electrification, and in demonstration of clean energy projects.
And I think this is a huge opportunity for tribes that are in the rural remote areas. But I'm, again, happy to follow up with you, Kat, and continue the conversation. But I thank you for your comments. I think we have the next speaker, right?
>>James: Yes, yeah, we have Will Micklin. I'm gonna unmute you, Will, and then, once you unmute yourself, you can talk [inaudible]. [side conversation]
>>Will: Thank you. [inaudible] Will Micklin [speaks foreign language] my Tlingit name is Yaan Yan Eesh; my English name is Will Micklin. I am vice-president with the Executive Council for the Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska. We are the regional tribe in southeast Alaska, over 33,000 tribal citizens in the area; we have over 35,000 square miles. And also, CEO of the Ewiiaapaayp Band of Kumeyaay Indians. My day job [inaudible] county, large land-based tribe for California, and small enrollment. And the two communities share attributes in the area of energy and other utility deficiencies for our communities. These are very similar concerns whether a rural remote California tribe or, really, most any Alaska tribe outside of the Anchorage area, or Fairbanks area.
And that's really either the lack of electrification. Ewiiaapaayp Reservation is off-grid to all utilities, whether electrical or the electric grid or telecom services. Most of our communities in southeast Alaska are – many are unserved, off-grid, but most are underserved. And by that I mean that they are subject to both high cost, over 60 cents per kilowatt hour, and they also have unreliable energy. We may have surges in voltage or, in low voltage, surges in amperage, both situations damaging to customer appliances and electronics. And, you know, basically, high cost with unreliability in the system, subject to significant and expected outages, and similar to the off-grid reservation at Ewiiaapaayp, we don't have access to the grid. And the cost of access, whether in California or Alaska, most of those communities that really need additional services need very high-cost transport to reliable transmission.
So, the cost for on-gridding at Ewiiaapaayp is about $5 or $6 million, and with a small enrollment, that makes us very uncompetitive with other tribes seeking funding. Particularly when the funding amount, as, you know, the two existing or opening DOE grants are 15 million and 20 million, there's no way we'd be competitive in trying to take a quarter or more of the available funding for our project. The BILs we're looking to, but again, even the Building a Better Grid Initiative, funded at 5 billion, with 2.5 billion for new or improved infrastructure, we would be competing against most every utility in the United States. So, we are fearful that our track record of competition for grant funding would be similar to our prior experience, which is that we are uncompetitive, not competitive. So, we think that the number in need that are either off-grid or underserved by unreliable and high-cost electric services is higher than depicted in the study. We are certainly, in my experience, in my home communities in southeast Alaska, and in communities in California, whether it's Tule River or Yurok or Hoopa, some of the larger reservations, a significant number are off-grid or underserved.
So, the barriers that we believe we really need to pay attention to is, one, the size of the grant [inaudible], it needs to be commensurate to the need. And number two is that it be grant funding with limiting the nonfederal share as much as possible. With these sizeable awards, a 20 percent share is an amount that we can't satisfy in kind, in any way, or find other resources. We've dedicated almost all of our resources to in kind for other purposes, so, grant funding with a small to zero nonfederal share is very important. And just the engineering, the grant application and its engineering for getting available funds is a challenge for us. The preliminary engineering studies that we have obtained, itself, are in the tens of thousands of dollars; detail engineering is much more, and that's only a part of the application process.
Finally, I'll point to the opportunity for colocation with transmission for electric with broadband deployment. The duplicative cost in transmission that could be avoided through colocation is incredibly significant, and really, any tribe that's underserved or unserved as off-grid doesn't have adequate or any broadband deployment, and would be, hopefully, a candidate for that. So, collocating through a single transmission, and applying common permitting and environmental documents is a significant benefit, if those could be consolidated. There's a project bundling provision in the BIL, in the transportation division of the statute, and we're hoping that that will be applied, so that we can save costs, save the federal dollar, and more efficiently apply for funding for deploying electric, and broadband, as well, to our communities. But it's really difficult, because communities are not competitive.
It's difficult to get the technical expertise and the cost of it funded, and the cost pools need to be large enough for our projects, and it need be not a direct competition with customer cost of customer services. Because our small consumer base, our patrons, are not sufficient to amortize the capital costs, except through grants. And grants are difficult, unless we have a low to zero nonfederal share. So, that's my offer and I thank you for the opportunity to speak, and I appreciate the light you're shining on what is an incredibly important issue. Too long we have heard that every community in America is electrified, when we know Indian Country is, by a high measure, a large measure, not electrified. And it's just astounding that that is the norm, that we have so many of our folks without access to the grid or accessing it through incredibly high cost and unreliable services. And if we miss this opportunity, I doubt we're gonna get another opportunity. So, thanks for your attention.
>>Wahleah: Thank you, Will, for that comment and your insight. I always enjoy what you always share with us, and I appreciate – also, I didn't know, I think you probably mentioned it at some point, or maybe I heard it through the grapevine, around the bundling piece, and would love to continue that conversation. The other thing I just wanted to mention, and I know that, you know, things are competitive when it comes to government dollars, and I know this is not set in stone, yet, but if you look at the recent – yesterday's, inflation bill, they did put aside – it's, like, the second-to-the-last page of the bill – can't remember what page number it is. But I went through it last night, and our office advocated for, last summer, to address energy access. And we've presented to different senate committees and congressional leaders around, you know, setting aside a big number, like, 3 billion.
And, you know, not sure where it's gonna go and where it's gonna lead, but, you know, we definitely advocated that there is no cost share that is something that shouldn't be competitive. And through this recent inflation proposal that came in yesterday, that's geared towards, also, climate solutions, they put aside 145 million for unelectrified buildings, or unelectrified tribal homes. So this is a big, you know, potential for helping to address some of these challenges, and I believe there's no cost share. So this is sort of what's in that, and I saw it as a huge opportunity that we keep advocating for this and making sure that leaders understand that, you know, we still have a big issue here in Indian Country, where people still don't have access to electricity. Or paying significant amount compared to people who are grid-tied or from urban communities, that the rural and remote pay much more.
And I think, you know, I've been trying my best to advocate for that, and I think it helps when everybody else is saying, also, the same thing, and talking to leaders to advocate on that, so it just makes us stronger. And so I'm happy that, you know, it's 145 million, but, I mean, it's not what we asked for, but it's definitely something that is there. And so, just trying to let you all know, and hopefully it will give you some hope that there could be money set aside for addressing sort of this big issue. And I do think, you know, energy access is a human right, and this is something that has been advocated globally. We have global numbers, you know, over a billion people in the world don't have access to electricity, and many of these people are in Africa and India. And when I tell them, "Hey, here in the United States, in tribal lands, we have a lot of families, still, that aren't counted, yet, that don't have electricity and – "
So, I do think I wanna say that, you know, the more that we raise it, the better that – you know, I think we're gonna see more investment and commitment. So, but I appreciate you speaking, and I know it's challenging. So, I think we have another speaker that's lined up?
>>James: Yes – Director Johns, thank you – we do. Dino Javeria, I'm gonna unmute you, now. [side conversation] So with that, I'm gonna see if I can get your written question. All right, yeah, so, sounds good, Dino, we'll look for your written question.
All right, let's move on to a couple more written questions and comments. Here's a longer one, I'm just gonna read it, I think it's more of a comment, someone with the Confederated Tribes of Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw – I'm sorry if I got the tribal names wrong – in Coos Bay, Oregon. "I am happy to be a part of this webinar. We currently worked with some Pacific northwest organizations to help us apply for $1 million-plus grant, to start the process of energizing the tribe and moving towards energy sovereignty. My question or thoughts: these big projects are amazing, and some tribes and folks may be ready, but many are not. I have been working very low-key with a couple of indigenous organizations, to educate and bring awareness to build a solid foundation: Trees, Water, and People, National Indian Youth Leadership Project, in partnership with We Share Solar. Our goal: bringing awareness and hands-on experience of renewable energy, utilizing a solar suitcase that can be used in the classroom and deployed in a number of situations, or built and deployed instantly where they are needed.
"Until a big project happens, I have been working to create curriculum that revolved around STEM and socioemotional mental health awareness. When you combine the two, you have a sustained effect within communities. This allows for awareness of the technology in the community: you see the suitcase on the ground or the playground, honestly, it doesn't matter where; the idea is to get people asking questions, 'What is this? How does it work?' And then we say, 'Come in to the training,' or, 'Let's build a training together.' We keep talking about how our youth are our future. Well, in partnerships with adults in renewables, let's give them the opportunity and the tools, starting on the ground with education and personal awareness.
"This creates a buy-in of this technology, it puts in their hands, and can lead to job creation. Not to mention folks who know what these systems are and how to work on them, which keeps knowledge, money, and progress moving forward and local." Then they said they have plenty more to share, and that's it for now. [inaudible] comment. I don't know what – Director Johns, do you wanna respond, in any way, to the comment? Or just, should I move on to additional written questions?
>>Wahleah: So, I think, you know, the approach is really for – I love the education and sort of, you know, bringing in STEM and teaching – even I know I've heard of many examples of children having solar suitcases, you know, in partnership with different companies and entities or philanthropy, to help support kids, you know, be able to power their laptops after school. And I do think all of those initiatives are really important wherever we can address, but it's also, you know, the – what we are trying to get to, hereon this listening session, is that sort of the – you know, what is it gonna take to really – I mean, [inaudible] all your input, but to really drive more investment and establish energy reliability and energy infrastructure. Whatever form that takes. You know, some areas are gonna probably need microgrid systems, standalone systems, some are gonna need just funding for extension, or substations.
You know, and all of those pieces are critical for affordable continuous power, and the main goal is for, also, tribes to take that leadership and initiative to really [inaudible] that energy sovereignty that comes with, you know, all of these pieces, the planning pieces that you all have brought today, in the comments, is that, you know, we wanna, on our end, are trying to organize ourselves better, so that we can help assist. And the questions that you have in regards to, you know, the challenges of different utilities to the competitiveness of grants, all of these, I think that, you know, coming up with a plan that can help – and even just our program being like more of a helpdesk to point you to the areas where you can receive support. And that's hopefully, like, in the next few years, that's what we wanna be able to make sure that we are in that place, because that is our statute. There is, you know, it's a huge task to fill in our statute, and that's the reason why this office was established is to help, you know, support you all and be of service to you all.
So, and we are trying to work our way to that, and I just really appreciate some of these efforts at the local community scale, and students being the innovators, and students leading and actually addressing energy access in their limited capacity that they have in partnerships. So, I think partnerships are really important when it comes to addressing some of these critical issues, and that means public and private sectors to come together, as well. So, we have lots of great demonstrations of that, and so I just appreciate your comment.
So, I guess we can go to the – I think we have a couple hands up?
>>James: Yes, thanks, Director Johns. We've got Joel Jackson. I'm gonna unmute you, and you can introduce yourself and make your comment or ask your question. [side conversation]
>>Joel: Yeah, my name is Joel Jackson. I'm the president of the Organized Village of Kake. We're a small village in southeast Alaska. I heard Will Micklin talk for the regional tribal organization, but I've lived here in my community for many, many years, and seen the price of energy go up, you know, from the time I was a little boy – I'm 66 years old, now – it's well over 60 cents a kilowatt hour. We can't do any, entice anybody to come in here to open up a business, because of the price of electricity. It just isn't worth it for them to try to come in here and start a business. It's just cost prohibitive, and also, we deal with everything, not just cost of electricity. Cost of food, cost of shipping, you know, we're hampered by the high cost of everything. It's just hard to try to produce something and then ship it out; it's just, it's next to impossible.
So, I think renewable energy, and I've been talking with different folks about that, about solar or wind, wind power, you know, just something. We do have a small hydro plant, here, that our current electrical company, they put in a couple years ago, but they've run into problems with it running consistently, because we've been experiencing drought, here in rural Alaska, for the last three, four years. Works good there in the fall and winter, but come spring and summer, the rainfall isn't consistent, we have long, long droughts, long period of droughts. Plus, with that hydroelectric, our electricity rates have not went down, because it only supplies, like, a third or something of the community. It does save on purchasing diesel fuel, somewhat, but, you know, with small things like this, here, and it costs millions of dollars, and it don't benefit our tribal citizens as a whole, you know, it just don't make any sense to continue to try to look at something like that.
I wanna look at something on a larger scale that would possibly be beneficial to our community, not only our tribal citizens, but people that may wanna come in here and open up a factory or a fish plant. We do have a fish plant that's been sitting empty for years because of the cost of electricity; they just can't work it. So a lot of these things, especially electricity, we actually had [inaudible] Thomas come up, years ago, spend a week with us, she brought different experts in hydro, solar, biofuel, there's a couple others I can't remember right now, but, you know, we went around and around in circles. Her mission, at that time, was to get us past the filling out the application. And unfortunately, that didn't go anywhere. It was, you know, we couldn't identify one of those alternative energy sources that would fit our community.
So, you know, I've been talking with people, you know, maybe a combination of biofuel, solar, and wind, you know, a combination of two or three, instead of just trying to pin down one. Because our weather has become more erratic as climate change has hit Alaska, and Alaska got hit so hard, we're, like, three times more, you know, affected by climate change than the rest of the United States. And we see that every day. We see the change all over, in the environment, and in our waters, our fish returning. So, you know, I think it's important that, if at all possible, you know – and Kake isn't unique. It's like this everywhere in rural Alaska, you know. If we didn't have what they call a PCE, the state picks up some of, or, organization picks up, pays for part of our electricity bill, if we didn't have that, we'd probably be close to $1.00 a kilowatt hour, at least.
So, we are subsidized, but, you know, over 60 cents a kilowatt hour is still a lot. My little house, I pay anywhere from $141.00 to $200.00 a month, and I got the bare minimum: I got a freezer, I got a refrigerator, I got a TV, all the, you know, necessary things, and unnecessary. I guess I could cut my TV, but it's just been trying times, especially with this Covid, prices have went up significantly for fuel. We're paying over $7.00 a gallon for gasoline, and a little less than $7.00 for heating fuel, in our community. And shipping, there's only two ways to get things in: it has to be flown in or by barge, and both of them are over 60 cents a pound, they charge us. So, you know, and related to that is the costs, you know, of course, the cost of food will go up, and it's just been trying times and it don't look like it's gonna get any better any time soon.
So, I thought I'd better get on and at least let you guys know what we're facing, here. And, you know, we're struggling to keep our tribal citizens; I know we're just losing one small family that's moving on 'cause of prices of everything here. And I think at the last count we had, like, 473 tribal citizens, so, we can't afford to lose too many more. So that's why I'm calling in today; I'd be interested in any kind of feedback, could probably e-mail our executive director, Dawn Jackson. I can put her e-mail in the chat, there, after I'm done, for any leads that we might be able to look at to possibly set up some kind of alternative energy.
I thank you for your time, and, you know, you guys are on a time limit, so I'll cut myself off, here. And, you know, I could talk all day about our woes and whatnot, but thank you again for allowing me to speak.
>>Wahleah: Thank you, Mr. Jackson, for your input, and we'd be happy to follow up, yeah, more with what you're thinking and how to be of support. I mean, it sounds like there's definitely a huge energy burden that you all are feeling, but I like the willingness to see and even just be on this call and give your input and wanna be of support. So, I think our contact information is here. Technical assistance, again, is at no cost, so, if you can make that request, that would be great, and we can get you sort of in our system, so that we can follow up with the conversation about, you know, what you all are thinking and how we can be of support. So, but, yeah, we definitely think it's important for people to stay in their communities, and that's the beauty of who we are as Native people, so, yeah, just wanna again thank you for your comment.
I think we have about 20 minutes left of this session, this listening session, and so, I just wanted to see if there are other comments. And if not, then we're gonna start to wrap up. I don't know if we have more slides, Tommy, from this point on? Are you there?
>>Tommy: I think we have one more slide that gives a little bit more information on how to reach out to us. We do have a Facebook and a Twitter, now. If we go to the next slide, we can see what those handles are. So, it's @doeindianenergy for both Facebook and Twitter. Again, you can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And we understand that all communities are at different starting points and different places within their energy vision, and we're attentive to that. We know that some folks are just beginning, and some folks are ready for deployment, and so, we're here to help no matter what situation that you're facing.
>>James: Great, thanks, Tommy. We did get a hand-raise. Pi-Ta Pitt, we're gonna unmute you, now, and you can introduce yourself and make your comment or ask a question. [side conversation]
>>Pi-Ta: My name's Pi-Ta Pitt, and I'm the general manager of Pechanga Western Electric here in Temecula, California, as an introduction. And I appreciate you all taking the time to share this super informative information, as well as accept our written comments from the last round. So I just wanted to follow up on that end, and just kind of highlight the issue that it seems like PWE faces that sometimes is a lot of the sort of ranking of projects, prospective projects, being scored high if they have a higher power savings. Which, in a weird way, as a tribal utility, having a lower rate, our scoring seems to be less, as we're saving less money due to our lower rates. And so, just kind of wanted to add that as a piece, that we're still concerned with that sometimes our projects may not be scored as high as they should be, due to sort of being customers of PWE and having a lower rate than our neighboring investor-owned utilities.
And I guess my main question is, just kind of looking at tribes that may or may not have grant-writing teams, and seeing some hurdles in the grant process, have you guys taken some time in looking at how, possibly, the actual application process could be streamlined, or barriers for folks to be lowered that may not have, like, fulltime staff to dedicate towards the grant process?
>>Wahleah: Hi, good to hear from you.
>>Wahleah: Thank you for getting on. That's a great comment and question and [inaudible] recommendations, and I do think this has been something that has been advocated from a lot of – you're not the only one asking this question is, what is the best way that we can streamline the grant process. Especially for the tribes that don't have, you know, the staff capacity or resources to do that and – so, yeah, I feel like it's – I don't know if Tommy or Lizana has anything else to add on that.
>>Lizana: Hi, Pi-Ta. I can only speak for our program and our grants, not for others, but the criteria is in the Funding Opportunity Announcement, and maybe the observation is that it's based on, you know, the amount of savings, but really, it's the totality of the application. And we have spent, I don't know, like, 25 years looking at how to streamline things. I will say that the code of federal regulations is pretty specific on the information we need and have to get, so, you know, we're kind of sometimes, like, between a rock and a hard place, understanding the limitations of tribes and, you know, the bandwidth that they have, and then trying to balance that, of course, with our statutory cost share requirements and eligibility of land requirements. As well as the code of federal regulations, which pretty much designates, you know, what a funding opportunity needs to include. I don't know if that helps other than I sympathize [inaudible] we understand and we will continue to explore ways to streamline.
>>Tommy: Another valuable thing that comes out of the application process is, we do make notes on why things were scored a certain way, and we do provide that feedback to the applicant. And so, hopefully that is [inaudible] on how to better prepare for the next round of funding opportunities, so you know, really, what you did wrong in that application. And as Lizana mentioned, we are always looking at ways to streamline, to make our applications more user-friendly, and we do look for advice on that. And so, any sort of feedback on specific things about our application, that are troublesome, let us know.
>>Pi-Ta: Thank you.
>>Wahleah: James, are there any other [inaudible] questions [inaudible]?
>>James: We have a couple questions that, you know, they aren't necessarily representative of tribes asking them, you know, from a tribal leader's perspective. There was one kind of general one. Someone was interested in the data from the study that Tommy talked about. Is the study gonna be published? And how is that data gonna be available? [inaudible]
>>Tommy: Yes, so the entirety of the report will be submitted to congress and go through the normal channels for any sort of report in that way. We do have to make sure, you know, we have a lot of the data, right now, we're putting it into the report, and we will incorporate the feedback that we receive today, and any subsequent feedback from this. And so, the report's not completed, yet, for those reasons, in part. And when it is available, we will send it out through our listserv, put it on our website, the whole mix, and so, we will let folks know when it's available to see.
>>Lizana: I might also add that the [inaudible] polling question information from the first listening session is also posted on our website, if you're interested in that. And that is on our website under Resources and Listening Sessions.
>>James: I do have one more comment, here, from a tribal community, somebody working with Navajo community, and of course the question came in, so it moved on me. It says, "Some Navajo communities oppose utility-scale solar, but prefer individual solar installation. Some of the reasons are concern about the end use of the panels and/or batteries. Does your program help educate communities about solar benefits to communities?"
>>Lizana: You know, there's a wealth of information on the website, in the Resources library, and there's monthly webinars, as well. And with the sort of initiatives that Wahleah mentioned [inaudible] unelectrified homes and communities, there will definitely be an education component [inaudible], also.
>>James: All right, well, Pi-Ta, did you want to speak again? I'll unmute you. It looks like maybe you raised your hand?
>>Pi-Ta: No, thanks, sorry about that.
>>James: Okay, it was probably my error. Thanks, Pi-Ta.
>>Wahleah: All right, well, I think we are close to our session, and just wanna give big thanks to Tommy Jones and Lizana Pierce and all of the people who helped to support, today, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, and James and Brandon, who, you know, have been helping to put this on, and also the previous listening session. And if you have more comments and questions, please – also, recommendations, you know, around the – I think there are many of you that have been attending any listening session or any kind of webinar that we've put on, with recommendations, especially around the streamline piece. And then things that maybe, I mean, I love what Will mentioned earlier around bundles, because that's been something that, you know, trying to navigate how we pull together some of these resources that could be bundled with other things.
And so, I'm curious about that, and it's always trying to find areas that can best overcome these barriers and challenges. And again, I'm really grateful for this administration, the Biden Administration's effort to make things more equitable and accessible, and I do think that the way we go about that is also around really trying to, I guess, give more platform to tribes to – you know, this is a platform for you to, tribal leaders, to tell us about the situation in your community and the challenges that you face in your communities when it comes to energy burden. And even to [inaudible] attain tribal energy sovereignty, and those are areas that we take a lot of – it's really important to us and we want to make sure that we continue to build relationships with you all. And that, you know, again, if you have comments, please submit them.
And I know there's a lot of questions that we'll get to in the – that were submitted, as well, so I appreciate all the questions and comments that you have made. And I think we're – I'm not sure, Tommy, if you had anything else to say?
>>Tommy: I just wanna thank everyone for being here. I appreciate the time that folks have spent. I will highlight that the Office of Indian Energy is here to help. We are all DOE, here, but there are so many different offices at the Department of Energy that it's sometimes difficult to know which ones to go to and things like that. And so, we're here to help. We want to connect you with the right folks. There's a lot of different programs and opportunities in different offices that are happening right now, and there's a lot of funding available, coming available as well, and – but again, thank you, everyone. And if there's more data or any feedback on what we've reported so far today, please send us an e-mail, let us know, or we can get on a call. But thank you all, again, for your time.
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