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Randy Manion: Good morning or good afternoon wherever you may be. And welcome to the last webinar of the 2016 DOE Tribal Renewable Energy Webinar Series. Today's webinar is on energy and economic success studies. I'm Randy Manion, today's webinar chair and manager of Western Area Power Administration's renewable resource program. Let's go over some event details first before we get started.
Today's webinar is being recorded and will be made available on DOE's Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs website, along with copies of today's PowerPoint presentations in about one week. And apologies for not getting the last webinar recording and PowerPoints up. But we'll get both of those up hopefully within the next seven days. Everyone will also receive a post-webinar e-mail with a link to the page where the slides and recording will be located.
Because we are recording this webinar, all phones have been muted for this purpose. We'll also answer your questions at the end of the presentations. However, you can submit a question at any time by clicking on the question button located in the webinar control box on your screen and typing your question. Also, if you've entered your audio pin when you joined, at the end of the webinar, again, we'll unmute you. If you raise your hand by clicking the raise your hand icon, you can ask our panel your question directly.
We'll try to keep the webinar to no more than 90 minutes. So our first speaker today is David Conrad. David is a member of the _____ Nation. He serves as deputy director for the DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs. He previously served as the department's director for tribal and intergovernmental affairs in the Office of congressional and intergovernmental affairs, where he was responsible for intergovernmental affairs with tribal, city, and county governments. David has 20 years of intergovernmental affairs experience and energy, environmental, economic development, natural and cultural resources areas.
He has served in intergovernmental legislative and public affairs positions, supporting tribal and local governments and has experience working with legislative bodies at the federal, tribal, state, local levels. He also has held executive leadership positions in the nonprofit sector with the National Tribal Environmental Council and the Council of _____ Resource Tribes. And Mr. Conrad holds a bachelor of arts in political science from Santa Clara University and a master’s degree in environmental policy and administration from the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay.
So with that, David, it's a pleasure to have you give the opening remarks for today's webinar, the last in the 2016 series. And the virtual floor is now yours.
David Conrad: Thank you, Randy, and hello, everyone. I join Randy in welcoming you to the 11th and final webinar of the 2016 series. This webinar series is sponsored by two US Department of Energy organizations, the Office of the Indian Energy Policy and Programs and the Western Area Power Administration. The Office of Indian energy programs directs, fosters, coordinates, and implements energy planning, education, management, and programs. It assists tribes with energy development, _____ building, energy infrastructure, energy costs, and electrification of Indian land _____.
To provide this assistance, we work within the Department of Energy, across government agencies, and with Indian tribes and organizations to promote Indian energy policies and initiatives to help Indian tribes overcome the barriers to more energy independence. To help tribes overcome the barriers, the Office of Indian Energy has developed several programmatic initiatives and partnerships, including financial assistance, technical assistance, and education and capacity building. This tribal renewal energy webinar series is an example example of the type of education and capacity building efforts we have developed with our _____.
Through funding provided by the DOE Office of Indian Energy, between 2002 and 2016, DOE invested nearly $66.5 million in more than 200 tribal energy projects implemented across the contiguous 48 states and Alaska. DOE's investment in these projects is valued at over $126 million, were leveraged by nearly $60 million in recipient cost share. Since 2010, the Office has focused on deploying commercial clean energy technology in your community, saving money, and making immediate impact on people's lives.
DOE's investment of $25 million over 40 cost shared projects in Indian country has had tangible results. This webinar will showcase _____ projects that contributed to more than 18.5 megawatts of new tribal renewable energy generation capacity, lowered electricity bills for more than 2,500 tribal _____, and more than 29,000 tribal members, _____ a total cost savings of about $10 million annually and more than a half a billion dollars over the life of the systems. To learn more about these successes under projects, see project successes on the Indian Energy website, which is a page in the DOE _____.
To build on this momentum and maximize return on past investments, the Office of Indian Energy is soliciting applications to install energy efficiency measures and deploy clean energy systems on Indian land. Specifically, the Office of Indian Energy is soliciting applicants under key topic areas from Indian tribes, including Alaska's native _____ corporations and those corporations to the tribal energy resource development organizations. Specifically, the office is soliciting applications to, one, install energy efficiency measures and clean energy systems on tribal buildings through deep energy retrofits or energy efficiency measures and clean energy systems; and/or, two, deploy clean energy systems on a community scale. This is topic area two in the application.
Applications for this _____ opportunity are due February 7th, 2017. For more, see the announcement on our website. We will not entertain questions on the _____ opportunity announcement during today's webinar. However, please join us tomorrow, December 1st, at 1:00 PM Mountain Time, for a webinar on the _____ itself. Tomorrow's webinar will provide potential applicants with information on the _____. In addition to describing the _____ in detail, presenters will discuss who is eligible to apply, what an application needs to include, cost share and other requirements, how to ask questions, and how applications will be selected for funding.
If you are unable to attend the webinar, it will be recorded and posted for later viewing. For more or to register for the _____ webinar, see funding on the DOE Office of Indian Energy website. Today's webinar will focus on highlighting tribal successes. You'll hear from Travis Lowder, renewable energy analyst at DOE's National Renewable Energy Lab, who will give an overview of tools and resources and information available to tribes, as well as the five steps of the project development process.
You will also hear some tribal successes. Joe Bresette, _____ developer for Tonto Apache Tribe, will present a case study on how his tribe saved 40 to 50 percent in energy costs through community solar rooftop projects. Dave Messier, from the rural energy – a rural energy coordinator for the Tanana Chiefs Conference, will present case studies for various successful tribal energy projects in rural Alaska. And we hope that this webinar series is useful, has been useful to you, and that you'll join us for the 2017 series. Now I'll turn the virtual floor back over to Randy. Randy?
Randy Manion: Thank you, David. And our next speakers today, as David just said, Travis Lowder, Joe Bresette, and David Messier. And I'll provide a brief overview introduction of each of them now. And then we'll get started with Travis. So Travis Lowder is renewable energy analyst at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory in Golden, Colorado. His research centers on solar PV, [interruption in audio, 0:08:58] innovations, market analysis, and renewable energy policy.
He also works directly with municipal governments, universities, tribal nations, and other public and private institutions on technical assistance matters related to PV economics, tax implications, capacity building, and training. Travis holds an MA in international development from the University of Denver and a BA in English from the University of Colorado. And then following Travis is Joe Bresette. Joe has worked with tribal governments since the early 1980s, including extensive experience in organizational management, grant development, housing, and planning. He has been successful in receiving four grants for the Tanto Apache Tribe in the last two years.
Joe has a bachelor's in business administration from the University of Wisconsin Stout and a masters in public policy from Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts. And then we'll close with David Messier. He's a rural energy coordinator for the Tanana Chiefs Conference in Alaska. He works with 42 federally recognized tribes in the region to keep them informed of opportunities for financial and technical assistance related to a broad range of energy options, including energy efficiency, renewable resources, and system improvements.
David has a bachelor's degree in natural resource management from Cornell University and a master's in business administration from the University of Alaska Fairbanks and is also a certified energy manager. And so with that, Travis, let me get your slide deck up. And the virtual floor is yours.
Travis Lowder: All right. We can go ahead and advance to the next slide, Randy. Thanks, everyone, for taking the time to join us today. This is a – this presentation I'm about to give is part of a two-day curriculum that we have been delivering to tribes around the nation for a couple years now. So it's fairly long in its uncondensed format. But I'm gonna sort of sprint through it today.
So if you have any questions following the webinar on anything that I have sort of left over, please don't hesitate to contact me. My e-mail is at the beginning of the presentation. But we'll get – we'll jive right in here. This is the five-step development process that you see on your screen. It begins with the project potential, which is essentially site assessment and market assessment. Moving on to project options, which is selecting business structures, figuring out how you're gonna finance the project. Project refinement, step three, is closing the financing – or settling on financial structure and your procurement strategy.
Step four is closing financing and pre-construction and construction activities. Step five is running the project, maximizing the asset, essentially, to deliver maximum performance and energy offset. And you'll notice that the process begins and ends with this comprehensive energy plan. The idea is that you've kind of done some work to decide what your energy development strategy is at the tribal level.
And then you use that document to sort of guide this process. And then when you finish, you go back to the plan and see how to add to it or to – if you've achieved your goals, actually, in the process of developing a single project. So we will get started with step one here. This is the initial sort of analysis, where you determine what your market is, what your resource looks like, what your sites available look like, how much land do you have available, and what is the project intended for.
Is this for an offset for local energy use? Or is this more of an economic play – a business opportunity where you're going to be selling the power off-reservation? So determining what the project's for, what your resource looks like so that you can get an idea of what production might look like depending on the technology, what your supply chain is. If it's a biomass plant, what kind of access do you have to fuels for that?
And then, of course, determining where you're gonna put the thing. So next slide, Randy. So this discussion of what your market is is essentially what I just mentioned. What does your current load on the – you can do an aggregate load analysis, taking multiple buildings and looking at past utility bills to determine energy usage. You can take a look at anticipated load growth if you have development plans or analyze trend.
And again, this is more for on site generation. If you're looking more towards this as a commercial play, if you're gonna be selling the power from your energy system into energy markets or if you've got a power _____ agreement, you'll sort of consider that differently than you would if you're looking at on site load offset. So these are considerations you want to be making in its early stage. What's the project for? And will it be a good investment?
What's your return on investment? Which you can start sort of playing with the numbers at this stage of the game. Next slide, Randy. So deciding how you want to size it and where you're going to site it, that's gonna have a big impact. What is your load? What does the site offer you in terms of space and in terms of geography? If this is gonna be a ground mount structure, do you have to blade land to get the system in place?
There's other factors. If you look on the bottom right column there, you see interconnection, net metering, rebates. These are things you want to be aware of. What's your utilities interconnection process? What are the thresholds for certain system sizes? That will sort of determine how to size your system. 'Cause you don’t want to run into too much red tape. Interconnection cues can be pretty nasty and can delay a project.
If the system is gonna be net metering, if this is a offset on site load, then you are gonna want to understand if you can get access to net metering, what the compensation regime is for excess generation, and then other rebates that would be available that will help you reduce your cost of energy, which is ultimately gonna help you if this is an energy offset play. Those rebates are gonna help you to get a wider delta between the energy – or the cost of what you're paying for energy now with your utility rate and the cost that you'd be paying to generate energy.
We'll talk a bit more about that later. So next slide. So in terms of a resource assessment, you have a few options. And I'm gonna start at the top, the high level, and sort of work my way down here. One good way to sort of get an idea of what you're looking at is to look at resource maps. And Randy, you can scroll through the next couple here. Just _____ a couple seconds on each one.
We had a solar map to begin with. This is the wind resource map. This is all California, but Enrail does this for many states and United States entire. So these are accessible online in the maps library – Enrail's map library – and for different resources and different technologies. We'll just pause right here, Randy, for a second. So this will give you an idea generally of what you're working with.
But you're gonna want a more granular and more local assessment. And so one way to take a step further in that direction is to access online tools. Enrail has available a tool called the system advisor model, or SAM, so publicly available at http://SAM.enrail.gov. You just have to register to download it. And a production estimate and financial calculator tool to determine cost of energy and production values year over year and month-to-month.
And it can help you do other things like assess your – the load offsets and things like that. Some things it does a little better than others. It is a general tool. It is not honed like, say, a developer's particular proprietary software tool would be or for spreadsheet analysis. But it can do a real good job of helping you zero in on what the economics of the project will look like and what your generation is gonna look like on a month to month or year over year basis.
Excuse me. If you want to take it one step further – and you will want to take it one step further – you will have to set up some measurement tools on site. We're talking met towers, anemometers if you're measuring wind, things to measure the local resource on the ground. And if you've got a weather station nearby, all the better. You might not have to set up these measuring apparatus to do so, to measure your resource. But having a year's worth of good data is a real good start into determining how your system will produce energy.
But that's just a start. We'll get to operations and maintenance later to talk about how to maximize the assets. But moving right along here – sorry I'm talking fast. We have a lot of material to cover. This is just a sort of conceptualized little exercise to show you how to site systems. So you've got a few different features to work with, geographical and [interruption in audio, 0:18:55] features to work with on a map. Say you're looking to site your project.
You say, "Okay. I've got a couple cities here north and south. I've got a river that cuts through the two of them. I've got an access road." And then everything to the right on this map here is insuitable land. It's either mountainous, or it's foggy. Or there's some endangered species, cultural heritage, whatever. I can't develop on that land. But to the left here I've got suitable land type.
This is open. I don't have grazing permits or whatever kind of things that can stand in my way. So you start [interruption in audio, 0:19:25] buffer analysis. So Randy, if you go to the next slide. You need a certain distance around towns. Let's say this is a wind farm. So the – you need to site it away from tall buildings so you can capture as much of the wind resource as possible. So you do a buffer analysis around the towns.
You say, "Okay. I can't develop anywhere within these red circles." You go to the next slide. And there is a riparian sort of buffer here. You can't develop around streams. There might be permits that forbid you from doing so. Or excuse me. There might be environmental regulations that permit you – or forbid you from doing so. Or there might be issues with the type of land that you're dealing with.
And then you go one step further. And you're looking at the access road. You say, "Okay. I want to site it within a certain distance from this road 'cause that's gonna reduce my costs to get things on site." And so what you wind up with here on the last slide is this suitable land type right there. So that's kind of a generalized and high level process of elimination – down select process to determine what kind of land you should be working with.
That's just the geography. We're looking also at resource. We've talked about that. And so once you've got your resource assessed, your market assessed, and your suitable land type – Randy, if you can go one down, yeah, one more slide – you've more or less sort of coursed this step one. You've determined how you're gonna sell the energy or where the energy's gonna go. You've determined where the project's gonna be sited.
You're gonna be – you know where the resource is maximum, or you've got an optimization between resource market and land type. And so at the end of each of these steps I'm gonna briefly touch on this risk matrix here. So you've got a number of risks at each stage of development, each stage of the process. And the five-step process is about going through and reducing the risks that are inherent in each step. And the idea is early on in the process you want to be able to discover fatal flaws that any one project may have.
And so you can kill that project and move on to the next. 'Cause you don't want to sink too much resource capital – or excuse me – development capital and resources, time, et cetera into any one project that's going to have problems later on. You want to try and detect these fatal flaws early, before step three certainly _____. So at this stage of the game, you have some development risks that have been mitigated and some site risks that have been mitigated. But you still have these permitting, finance, et cetera risks that are below it that we're gonna get to in step two, which is the next slide.
Step two is project options. Go ahead, Randy. So the purpose of step two is to figure out how you're going to organize the structure around this project and take care of your permitting. 'Cause permitting is one of those things that could be a fatal flaw in a project. If a permitting process is gonna be too expensive, too drawn out, or if you anticipate that the permit's gonna be too difficult to get, you're gonna want to understand that early on. So next slide, please.
We can skip that one. The purpose of that slide is just really to understand who you're inviting to be on this team, what entities you need to participate and how you want to bring them in, contractually or sort of as a partner without any sort of agreements. So understanding the various entities that are playing a role is gonna be incumbent upon the project development team. So in terms of how the tribe participates in a project, there are several ways that the tribe as a whole or a particular entity within a tribe can be party to this project.
We've got here this sort of risk/reward pyramid. At the very bottom you've got as an O and M subcontractor if the tribe has that capability. They can service the asset, and they can run it on a day-to-day basis. That's a contract. And there may be some penalties in that contract, but it's generally low-risk, particularly if the asset is not – is just a power purchase agreement. And the tribe doesn't have too much exposure in that contract.
Moving on up the ladder here, you've got landowner. That's essentially the tribe is collecting lease payments. Or energy off-taker. That's the tribe buying power through a power purchase agreement. On the higher end of the risk/reward scale, the tribe, if it has a bank or some kind of lending capability, can be a lender to the project. That's a fixed-income sort of arrangement, so not too much danger if the project is healthy and sound and performs well.
And it could be a good way to earn some capital off a project sited on your land or even off your land if you have an enterprising commercial bank operation. The tribe can participate as an equity investor. You get more up side but also more risk exposure. And as a single owner/operator. There you're kind of getting all the risks but also a big chunk of the up side, too. So moving on to the next slide.
Business structures. However the tribe does participate, you're gonna want to structure a – an entity to participate. And that's really for these reasons we've listed here – protecting tribal assets; tribal sovereignty is a big issue; tax implications is something you want to be aware of because renewable energy projects do have access to tax credits and accelerated depreciation. And that can complicate things if the – if a tax-exempt entity, like a tribe, even though tribes aren't necessarily tax exempt, they are kind of occupying this gray area between tax exempt and taxable.
So understanding the tax implications of tribal participation in the project is critical. Minimizing liability, that could be tax liability. That could be other things like indemnities. And then the construction – obviously, once the contracts are all executed, you're gonna want to understand how those contracts affect the tribal entity and what the recourse is for the rest of the tribe. Next slide. I'm not gonna go over all of these, but these are the business structures available to tribes.
There's some special ones like section 17 corporations. And there's also some more vanilla sort of – or broader structures like LLCs that are available to a broader range of business enterprises. So we've got a sort of advantages and disadvantages matrix here. A lot of folks on the call probably understand how these business structures affect different tribal enterprises, so I won't go into it here. But that's just for reference, really.
So next slide, Randy. Thank you. Permitting is a big one. You're gonna want to understand, have an idea of the costs, the timeline, and the extent of the permits you'll need. Interconnection is – this is absolutely critical. Your system has to get onto the utility – well, it doesn't have to. If you're building off-grid, that's one thing. But if you intend to feed this power back onto the grid either through a net metering arrangement or to sell it, then you're gonna want to get this interconnection permit.
This is one of the first things you're gonna want to do. Consult with your utility early and often. And get the paperwork started so that by the time you get to construction you can get that paperwork finalized. And you can get your permission to operate soon after construction is completed. Because that's when your project starts either offsetting local power or generating revenue.
Net metering is another big one if you're gonna be feeding back onto the grid and anticipating some sort of credit for that. Then getting that net metering agreement started at this early stage is critical. Local tribal permitting, understanding what you have to navigate around, if you have land use permits that you need to get started or if you have cultural heritage stuff that you need to get started, understanding that landscape is gonna be critical. This might take a council check-in at this point to determine and visiting with various parties to get them on board to get the community behind your project.
And then you've got your environmental permitting. This is state and/or federal. And these can be big ones. Developing on tribal lands, if it's trust land, may trigger an _____ process. And if there's federal money involved, you can bet that an _____ process will be triggered. And so being prepared for that is going to be one of your biggest assets in this early stage of development. Next slide please, Randy.
Understanding what kind of land you're working on is gonna help you understand what kind of permits you're gonna need. If you're working on tribal land, if it's trust land or fee land, understanding the difference between those two. Fee land generally you may be subject to state permitting and land use. Working on trust land it may be more federal. And then we're talking _____. We're talking clean air, clean water, endangered species.
If it's not located on tribal land, then you're subject to all the gamut of permits that anybody else would be. So there is some risk in taking on a sort of expanded permitting process that – on a project that might be sited off your land. So it could be advantageous to be working within your land. Next page, please. This is the NEPA process.
This is sort of a high-level decision tree. But really those two things that I mentioned – if it's trust land, that could be considered federal, in which case it would be subject to NEPA, or if it has a "federal nexus," quote, unquote, which means that there's some federal funding involved. Those are big things that could trigger a NEPA process. And so understanding what the NEPA process involves and trying to get the categorical exclusion or the finding of no significant impact, those are things that cost less and take less time than the more intense NEPA – what's that called?
Sorry. I always forget the name of the one you want to avoid. But there's one more stage beyond categorical exemption and finding of no significant impact that you want to avoid if possible. 'Cause that's the – that's a resource intense process. So moving on to the next slide. So we've reached the end of step two. You've mitigated a good bit of development risk and your site risk. You've now worked on your permitting.
Next up is finance. You still have not – you've decided your business structure. Maybe you've investigated capital sources for your project. But in this next step, step three – that's the next slide – this is where we're gonna kind of zero in on what the financial structure will be, how the project's gonna get paid for, and then you're gonna be selecting your vendors in the anticipation of construction. So step three is refinement. It's mostly occupied with financing, as I said.
You're gonna want to decide the ownership structure. Is the tribe gonna own it? Is the tribe gonna host the project and buy the electricity via a power purchase agreement? Or is the tribe gonna partner such that it owns the project partly. It's got an equity stake. But it's not a 100 percent owner. In which case, there might be some buy out options later down the road. Next slide.
There's various ways you can look into financing a project. If you have cash on hand and this is not a huge project and you've determined that this is a – through your various analyses determined that this is gonna earn you a pretty high return on investment, paying for it outright might be your best bet. It's simpler in terms of project structure. And from day one you are – you're generating energy without financing _____. There's also grants – federal or from third parties, various nonprofits, et cetera.
There is incentives that are on offer through the federal government, state and local governments. Utilities can offer incentives sometimes. Understanding what incentives you have access to is gonna be very important to reducing your cost of energy. [Interruption in audio, 0:32:24] online resources such as the database for state renewable incentives, desire. http://DSRE –I believe – .USA.org is the website. So it'd be good to play around there even before step three. You want to sort of understand the landscape.
Monetizing green attributes. This is renewable energy certificates. And then of course there's debt, a more traditional form of financing big infrastructure projects like these. Energy savings performance contracts. This is a way of contracting with an entity and paying only for your – the energy you save, really. And then there’s tax equity, which is the federal tax incentives. We won't go over them on this particular webinar, but this is something that if you want to reduce the capital cost of the project that may be good to look into.
So next slide please, Randy. This is a simple, single owner structure. Let's say that the tribe pays for this with cash on hand. The tribe basically generates electricity for itself. It feeds any remaining energy – excess energy back to the utility if it's net metered. And they pay for whatever energy that they still need, any load that's not addressed by this renewable energy project.
The next slide has a lender in the picture. So now you've got financing costs. And some of the savings that you are generating through this project, if it's offsetting local load, will go to paying a lender. If this is a project selling energy into a wholesale market or to a utility through a power purchase agreement, then the revenue earned through those electricity sales will be used to pay down the lender. This is just something that traps cash.
Financing with debt may be the only way to do it, but if you do have to finance, debt is a great way to do it because it's cheaper than equity generally, unless you get some sort of concessional financing. So next slide. These are various sources of debt that tribes can look into for financing renewable energy projects. You've got your economic development bonds, certainly commercial loans from banks. There are tax credit bonds such as qualified renewable – or excuse me – qualified energy conservation bonds, clean renewable energy bonds.
And certainly there are other sources of debt. There could be certainly private equity. It can be an expensive form of debt. But also lending on concessional terms from various public agencies, something to look into. Next slide, please. This is a power purchase agreement arrangement. If the tribe doesn't want to own the project or figures that it could get better economics just by purchasing the energy, such that there's no up front payment, there's no capital investment up front, then a power purchase agreement might be the way to go.
In this arrangement, you've got someone else that owns the project, or maybe the tribe participates through a business structure. But generally the – whatever facility is consuming the energy is purchasing it instead of using the system to offset load. So next slide. These are some various advantages and disadvantages of power purchase agreements. Something to consider for tribes.
Again, it can be a way to avoid up front capital investment and just purchase the energy, which would save on outlay – capital outlay. But the tribe does not own the project generally, unless it's an equity partner. Even in that case, it would still have to buy the project out at some point. And there could be some issues with rec ownership. There could be complications with tax implications if the tribe is participating as an equity holder.
So various things to consider. But I won't go into them now because I'm running short on time. I think we're getting to the end of step three here, so next slide. Procurement vendors for – let's say if you're doing a solar project, you're looking at either developers or panel manufacturers, equipment suppliers, various third-party vendors. You want to develop RFPs for these things. This is a process unto itself. And I believe Enrail does offer technical assistance in this area.
So it's always good to contact us, and we can put you in touch with the appropriate people on this sort of thing. 'Cause this can be a pretty sticky process. But generally procurement is something at this stage that you're gonna want to be aware of how you're gonna execute on that and start issuing RFPs and closing on some of them, as well, for your various equipment needs. So next slide, Randy.
So we've gotten all the way to the construction part of this project. And we've mitigated all the risks that have been in our path hitherto. So moving on to step four. This is implementation, but this is really construction. Next slide. And one more. Thank you. And we can even go to the next one here.
This is just finalizing everything you've set up to this point – executing on all your contracts; closing your financing; beginning pre-construction work; releasing the site for work to the engineering, procuring, and construction entity that will be conduction construction on site; disposing the assets if you have a financial agreement with various partners. And then at the end of all this, you want to get the project commissioned, essentially tested, and get your interconnection agreements finalized with the utility so you can get your permission to operate. Get everything squared away such that at the beginning – and again, I don't want to give the false impression that there's not a lot of work in this step.
I've only got one slide for implementation. But essentially what you want to do here is have all your contracts in place so that once you execute on all of them every party goes to work on what it has to do. And the construction matrix or the construction structure – excuse me – the contract structure is such that you have protections and indemnities in place for any party that sort of falls outside of its committed duties. So at the end of all this, you've got a operating project.
And then the next step is the operations and maintenance step. This is essentially maintaining the assets and operating it to its fullest potential so that you can generate as much energy as possible. This includes monitoring the system, maximizing performance, keeping an eye on your warranties. The warranty management can be something you want to stay on top of. Even in solar, where there's no moving parts, you still have inverters that are gonna go down.
You may have defective panels. And these problems may not show up for a couple months. Then after your – or even a couple years in. That's after your sort of, quote, unquote, "teething period," lapses. So you want to have people – a good team sort of on this asset and ensuring that it's generating the highest possible value. And then of course if you've got a buy out arrangement in any of your contracts with a partner that's an equity holder, you're gonna want to understand what that is.
And then at the specified date if you've got a buy out option, you may want to exercise that. And that's gonna take some sort of analysis in this time frame. I believe this is the last slide in step five. Randy, can you move ahead? Oh, yeah. This is more or less what I just said. Just understanding how to maximize your assets production and warranty management.
I can't tell you how many systems get put in the ground and are not monitored and operated effectively. And sooner or later, it becomes a suboptimally performing asset. And this can lead to stranded costs for whoever the owner of that project is. And that's a situation you want to avoid. You want to ensure that you earn your payback on this in the timeframe that [interruption in audio, 0:41:07] various financial analyses early on.
And so at the end of this step, you have mitigated all the development and construction risks. And you are now operating, and it is just a matter of operating the system to its fullest potential. That is your remaining risk for the most part. So moving on to the next slide, you've completed the development process. But you go back to your planning document and see what your next step is.
This is a process that could take a number of years, especially in pre-development phase where you're trying to get a project off of ground. So understanding how to keep it cyclical and not stopping at one project but maximizing your return on investment through several projects, that's an admirable goal to keep in mind. So I've taken up a lot of time. If you have any questions, please, I encourage you to reach out to me. I did sprint through this, so I've left a lot untouched.
But hopefully you get an idea of what we're talking about when we talk about project development and financing and the various sort of hurdles you have to clear before getting to an operating project. Thank you.
Randy Manion: Thank you, Travis. Great job. Joe, just give me a moment to get your slide deck pulled up.
Joe Bresette: That's great.
Randy Manion: Okay, it's all yours.
Joe Bresette: Okay. This is Joe Bresette. I'm with Tonto Apache Tribe out in Payson, Arizona. And first I wanted to tell you a little bit about our tribe. So let's spin through some of these slides. And this – we'll come back to this. This is our second project. It's a roof mounted solar array with 275 kilowatts of production. It's completely roof mounted on the tribe's hotel. Let's go down to the next slide.
These are some of the technical details of this project, as you can see. Actually, with a roof mount where we had a lot of space on that roof, it was a very direct project to put together. Next slide. Okay. Did you have the first PowerPoint, the other one?
Randy Manion: This is all I have, Joe. Was there another deck?
Joe Bresette: Okay. And so here at Tonto Apache, we're located again – we're on the edge of the most advantageous solar region in the US. We're 75 miles northeast of the Phoenix area at an elevation of 5,000 feet. So we have the four seasons. The tribe itself was not recognized as a federally recognized tribe until 1972. And since then they've established the whole array of tribal facilities and services that you would expect to see in a tribal community.
The population of the tribe is very small, approximately 170 people all told. Most of those 170 live right on the reservation. Now, the reservation, when it was established, was only 85 acres. And since 1972, they've developed that area into business, governmental, and residential areas. And the 85 acres are essentially all used for those purposes. The tribe recently acquired another 260 acres just east of the present reservation, and that will be used for our residential and community facilities.
So we had the project objectives that you see, the grant program compliance. In 2014, we applied to be considered for the community scale program of the Department of Energy. That program provides a 50/50 match for development costs for community scale projects, which are aimed towards governmental and business facilities on tribal lands. So we proposed a 270-kilowatt solar system that would be attached to our main administrative building and, very nearby located, the tribes gymnasium. And what we planned on doing was roof mounting most of the systems.
But we also had to include some canopy construction for mounting panels on canopies in our parking lots just because we didn't have enough room up on the rooftops to complete that size project. The total cost of the project was right at $800,000.00. And so once we were approved on the grant, we received $400,000.00 support from Department of Energy. And the tribe kicked in $400,000.00 themselves in cash.
Because we were essentially retrofitting existing buildings, construction did not cause many disruptions to any of our operations. Only when you are ready to switch into the utility at the end of construction, where you had to have _____ _____ to cut the system in were we – were the real only disruptions we encountered on that first system. The utility company – I think it was referred to on the last – but we had problems with once we got ready to implement or complete the system, we had divergent information between us and the utility, where we thought they had indicated everything was fine for the interconnection agreement.
And what ended up was we had some net metering problems and ended up with – if we had left the system as originally designed, we would've lost the best commercial rate and therefore the savings we were projecting. So we ended up having to re-meter some of the panel areas into another building. And once we did that we were able to attain the best commercial rates that we had projected. The projects are roof mounted and easy to see from all aspects of the 80-acre tribal reservation.
And so it was aesthetically pleasing to the tribal community. Because we had a retrofit and most on the gymnasium, we ran into problems with having to do a lot of outside conduits placements on the building itself. And because there was no – the main metering area was right in the front of the building, we ended up with a lot of conduit there. And some of the tribal members weren't too pleased with that. We had a budget of approximately $800,000.00, a time frame of one year, and scheduling from start to end a little over one year.
We projected a savings once the systems were in place of over 40 percent of the electric cost for the tribal administration and the gymnasium. We have met those savings. So the objectives in our first project were to integrate renewable energy on community buildings, become less reliant on energy generated by non-renewable sources, reduce the carbon footprint of the tribe, become a leader in self-sustainability, and to create jobs needed for tribal members. The outcome of the first project were we did meet the whole one-year schedule.
The system was activated within the – ten months. And we didn't run into any particular kind of construction problems because it was pretty straightforward roof mounted. The canopy construction is a little more complicated. And if anyone is considering that, we didn't shy away from canopy construction in our parking lots because it's good in the summer for the visitors and the shade they provide. But they're a very expensive part of what you're doing in a project like this.
We then, after installation of that first system, proposed another community-based project of 250 kilowatts that would serve four facilities – governmental facilities. They were a wastewater plant, pumping station, and the tribe's gas station. These included canopies, ground mounted, and roof mounted solar panels. Once we got the grant approved, we learned that the major load in this mix, the water treatment plant, might be decommissioned within a few years. So we reevaluated and contacted DOE and said, "Hey, we need to – we've got this problem.
We don't want to put all of this stuff in on this project if we now know we may not have the load down the road." And so they said, "What can you do?" And we said, "Well, we can design something over on the tribe's hotel for the same amount of money and generating the same amount of production." And so they said, "Well, go ahead and put it together and send it in." And we did that, and they accepted it.
We started off at 250 kilowatts in the four production areas and ended up with 270 kilowatts at the same price over on the hotel because the hotel project did not require canopies nor any fences, et cetera, for ground mounted protection. And so the whole second system went on top of the hotel, which is a flat roof. And it's a three-story building. And people don't really know that project went in because you really can't see it. And so we're right now about 95 percent done with that second project.
The cost is very similar to the first – $800,000.00 of which we're splitting the cost with DOE. Now, on the summary of project objectives, the grant program compliance. Of course that's true with any grant money you get. You have to follow whatever the grant issues are. And we're very careful with that and were able to close out the first grant successfully.
Tribal council communications, we did not – we don't have that circle that Travis talked about, which is creating our planning process. But this tribe began involvement in solar projects through the leadership of a former chairperson. She was really intrigued by the possibilities of doing projects that could save money and at the same time reduce the carbon footprint of the tribe. And it fit the overall tribal values. That's how we began.
But we looked at it not so much as we were going to really enter alternative energy planning process as much as a one-time, very direct project. And so that's how we began the thing. What happened was that the first project was so successful the tribe said, "Well, as soon as it comes available again, let's see what else we can do." The problem with a straight planning process for access to the Department of Energy funding, their community scale project, is the energy modeling and technical support, a tribe like us, which has a very small staff, we don't have the technical capabilities to put a grant proposal together to meet what the grant calls for.
And so we had to find a solar engineering company that could assist us because the application calls for very specific technical information, data, very specific information about the types of systems, and identification of brand names, even. We didn't know all that, so we engaged a partner, Sun Renew Solar, from Scottsdale, to help us put that project together. They provided design and engineering. And once – actually, your design is done prior to your grant application. And once – if it's approved, then engineering procurement, mobilization all occur after grant authorization.
We didn't – we went ahead once the grant was approved with those steps, mobilization _____ _____ and proactive project management. For us the project management was a partnership between our staff and our consultant, construction staff. And we assigned on – our chief maintenance person to interact directly with the consultant so that we had one avenue of information management. When they ran into a problem or there were questions, we had one place to go to see what was going on. And that worked really good.
The interconnection, we did have problems down the road that are solvable. But the utility companies are very – they're not real helpful, I don't think, in getting that done. You're way down the list of priorities when you're doing a project like this. They will eventually help you out, but you're not a high priority. The operations management and asset management are all things now that we are responsible for. And what we've done is had our consultant train some of our maintenance staff about maintenance and cleaning.
And then we have a electronic reporting system that alerts us should any of the system components be experiencing any type of default or problem. Could you put on the next slide? So this is actually the second project. And like I said, because it's on top of the hotel, nobody even really knows it's there. And so the process we went through on both projects is once we obtain the grant application approval, the implementation – because the application is pretty detailed and comprehensive, you already have laid out all your implementation schedule, your construction schedule.
Your construction issues are all part of your application. So when you're on the implementation side, once you've got the grant, it's pretty straightforward as to what you need to do. And so we were able to reach these outcomes as a result of our efforts. We have met our savings goals. We're a little, tiny tribe, and so everybody knows what's going on with everything. And so the first time the electric bill for the administration building came in after the installation of the panels, you could hear the buzz going throughout the building.
"Hey, did you –" it went from $1,600.00 to less than $600.00 in one month. And so that was quite the exciting time for our staff. The tribal goals – because the first project was highly visible during construction and afterwards, the community feels pride in having a project like that on their land. This has translated into other actions the tribe has taken to improve the energy profile. They have implemented a relighting of the entire casino parking lot from incandescent to – whatever – the high energy saving lighting.
And that project is completed. That project the casino paid for. And it'll pay itself back in two years with a lifespan of 25 years. So there are plenty of savings coming from that. The tribe has also signed a contract to redo the lighting at the convenience store gas station. And that will be completed within the next four months. And right now the tribe is considering redoing all the lighting in its administrative building and adjacent parking lots.
And so I think our projects have spurred the adoption of a lot of action by the tribe to reduce energy consumption and at the same time save a lot of money. There's still plenty of interest here at Tanto Apache and a further community scale project. We have a casino right in the entryway to the community. And the tribe is considering a solar project similar to what we've done for that. And there's also interest in whether we can do some residential work. And we've just begun exploring the ideas there on where there might be financing situations that would work for the tribe.
Let me just close out by saying the production from our projections and the application to our actual activities have turned out to be pretty accurate. Our schedules have been met, but weathers and unknowns do intercede. So you need to watch out on your schedule. The connection with the utilities often complicated that. Complicated is a nice word. The community remains highly interested in further savings, so we're looking at two projects right now, as I've just discussed.
We have very limited land with 85 acres and all of it pretty well used for some purpose. So we were able to do these two projects without really impacting the way the land has previously been used or causing any changes in or complications in the way the land is being used. And so we pretty well accomplished our objectives as we identified them in the grant proposal. It took leadership of a single person to get the tribe going in that area.
And now the council and the decision makers are firmly convinced that there's plenty more we can do here at Tanto. With that I'll close off. And thank you for your time.
Randy Manion: Thank you, Joe. That was very inspirational. David, just give me a moment to get your slide deck pulled up. David, it's all yours.
David Messier: Great. Thanks so much. So my name's Dave Messier. I'm the rural energy coordinator for Tanana Chiefs Conference. It was great listening to the last presentation. I'm probably gonna be touching on some of the same things in mine. If you could go to the next slide I'll talk a little bit about Tanana Chiefs Conference.
So the tribes up in Alaska, as I'm sure many folks on the phone know, are much smaller than lower 48 tribes. I would say the average tribal enrollment in my region is about 200 to 300 or so depending on the community. We've got a huge number of tribes. I represent about 42 federally recognized tribes spread across an area roughly the size of Texas. And so TCC, Tanana Chiefs Conference, is the intertribal organization set up to basically give tribes in our region a little bit more of a voice when they go down to DC or the lower 48 to advocate on issues.
They're not a small community of less than 200 people, 300 enrolled tribal members. They're part of a much larger tribal consortia representing 10,000 tribal members throughout the interior. And so the predominant kind of business of Tanana Chiefs Conference, my organization, is healthcare. We run the Indian health services programs for the 10,000 tribe members in the interior. And I am the one person in the organization that focuses on some of the rural energy challenges.
TCC's roughly a $180 million a year company. Again, the majority of that is focused on healthcare. The program that I run Tanana Chiefs Conference basically said under the direction of our tribal members we're gonna dedicate a small chunk of money, about $150,000.00 a year for my entire program budget. Go off and try to create benefit for the community. So try to reduce the costs of energy across the region. Next slide.
So as you can see, the interior of Alaska is fairly large. It's about the size of Texas, 235,000 square miles. The majority of it is either arctic or subarctic. Or all of it is either subarctic or arctic. And I always say about the size of Texas roughly is the region. Fewer miles of road than Rhode Island. So we've got one road that goes up into Fairbanks and then one that goes over to Manley Hot Springs on the Tanana River and out to Circle on the Yukon.
And the – and then a road, the _____, that goes down to the Canadian border. But the majority of our communities are either fly in only, meaning they're not located on a navigable river, or they're barge in for fuel. And so our communities run on diesel generators. They were electrified just about 50 or so years ago, some as recently as the 90s. As our villages turned from fish camps and hunting camps into communities in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, and schools started popping up, that was basically people's first experience with electricity.
And so some of the utility systems in our communities were put together a little bit haphazardly. But the cheapest form of energy in these communities is fuel oil. It's still one of the most energy dense resources in the world, most easy to transport. Obviously the cost of fuel has increased substantially since these villages were electrified. So the fact that my villages are almost 100 percent reliant on diesel fuel may not have been as large of an issue back in the 70s when a barrel of diesel was going for $10.00, $12.00.
Fast forward to 2008 when oil hit, I believe, $140.00 or so per barrel. Some of the villages saw electricity costs and costs to heat buildings double or triple. So we can go to the next slide. The graph on the bottom of this slide shows some of the difference in rural Alaskan communities. And so this is a median share of income in Alaska households that they spend on energy. And this was done in about 2009 or so, so the data is a little bit dated.
But as you can see, for remote rural communities, the bar at the bottom, some communities in rural Alaska are spending 47 percent of their household income to pay for energy needs. And that's substantially higher, obviously, than communities, whether they're native or non-native, in Anchorage and Fairbanks. And so that's kind of the reason for being – or the reason to be – or for my department to be. Basically how can we reduce the cost of energy in these incredibly remote regions of Alaska where the culture is still very vibrant?
People still obviously want to live there. I will say the challenges are great. There's outdated infrastructure. Most of the infrastructure in our communities, schools, water plants, et cetera, was built between the 60s and the 80s, again, when oil was cheap. High oil costs were not on people's mind. They were used to – it was kind of the continuation of an era of low oil prices. And so that pervaded in building design. Everything from schools to _____ homes, water plants, et cetera, the methodology was, "We've got some money. Let's do what we can.
We'll build it for the community." And then they've got to take care of it. So fast-forward again to 2008, and some of the utility bills are just kind of crippling communities. Combined with the fact that a lot of our rural communities, as I think is happening in a lot of areas in the lower 48, are seeing kind of a brain drain as youth move out of small communities, smaller cities, and they go towards larger communities. We're seeing the same thing. A lot of the youth don't prefer to live in a small community 200 air miles from Fairbanks, where a round-trip ticket into town is $300.00, $400.00.
They'd rather live where there's more access to infrastructure either in Fairbanks or Anchorage. And so that can create a little bit of a challenge as some of our communities are shrinking in size and youth are moving from rural communities into bigger communities. It kind of leaves a smaller pool of people in our rural communities to do the bulk of the work. And so fast-forward to the next slide. A bit of delay.
Here we go. So this is – I try to, I guess, explain that the goals of my program are reducing the cost of energy in rural communities. Obviously we're also trying to build capacity. Because I always stress – I'm based in Fairbanks. Alaska, the majority of my communities, are a plane ride away. And obviously I go out pretty frequently, but having 37 different villages to work with, can't be everywhere all the time. So building as much capacity in those communities as possible is a big priority.
And finally – and I don't want to understate this if folks are kind of in my position being the one person tasked with a – what I consider to be a fairly complicated job. And one of the reasons that I'm such a big fan of the Department of Energy, because they've definitely been the most vocal and the biggest help to supporting our communities. In the last few years for me it is absolutely fantastic the amount of support the Department of Energy, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and technical assistant providers, et cetera, provide to our communities to support what is otherwise a very challenging, very daunting task.
And I know what's always one of my goals is to not get overwhelmed by the enormity of the challenge. So next slide. This is basically a TCC energy model. Not five steps; there's only three. I get a lot of questions from rural communities. "Hey, what can we do to reduce the cost of energy in our community?" And everybody sees large wind turbines that are going up on the coast of Alaska. We have got class six and seven wind.
They see huge solar PV arrays in the lower 48, down in Arizona, et cetera. And they automatically jump to that as the first step towards reducing their reliance on diesel fuel. So I always try to stress in a community when if the goal is reduction in energy costs, then we really need to follow this methodology. Figure out what the actual issues are. Collect data. That's utility bills, preferably three years – two years at the least. And figure out where and when their energy costs are occurring.
And then focus on efficiency. And that's really the unsung hero, I would say, in most of my rural communities. It's the hardest to see because nobody can tell when you changed the light bulb. _____ _____ _____, and then you see the electricity bill drop substantially. But it's not – doesn't have a real visual effect. People aren't seeing the solar PV arrays or seeing a biomass system. They're just kind of going to work, doing their daily tasks, and it's around them. It's saving them money using updated technology through energy efficiency is definitely the way to go.
And then finally there's renewable energy. And that's for my area being in the interior of Alaska we don't have many communities that are accessible for wind. Transmission costs can be up to $500,000.00 to $1 million a mile. So looking at something that's easily accessible, that's close by, we've got a lot of biomass, and typically we've got a lot of solar in the interiors. So after you've done the easy stuff, the low-hanging fruit, the efficiency, I typically push communities towards biomass for heat and then solar PV for electricity because those are the tried and true technologies.
Being the only person in the region that's tasked kind of with working with our communities on energy, I could spend most of my day if I wanted researching the new, hot technology that's available. I prefer to work with technologies that are tried and true and commercially proven. So fast-forward to the next slide. This is a map of different energy projects that either I've been involved with or have occurred throughout the region that I work with.
The light bulbs are indicative of energy efficiency projects. The sunbursts are solar PV projects. And the logs are biomass projects. So we've got a fairly good spread throughout the region. Trying to hit, along with our project partners, the Alaska Energy Authority, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortia, the Regional Housing Authority, and trying to coordinate who's doing projects where, et cetera, and how can we work with as many communities as we can and kind of not duplicate the others' work, obviously, to get our villages the best, most productive projects that we can assist them with. Next slide.
So this is a – just a brief overview of the – what I call my project portfolio, I guess, kind of different projects that I've been involved with. I've kind of – I think I've got a touch of ADD. So I get to be involved with all kinds of different projects. I try not to limit myself. I've installed solar PV, done energy efficiency work, done small interconnects. We're working on larger transmission projects, a lot of energy efficiency, as I said. And then also helped communities with just kind of bankability and financing different projects.
We have rural powerhouses in our villages. There are typically – rural diesel generators are still the backbone of energy in our communities. They power the lights for the airports, the clinics, the water plants, et cetera. And as systems get more complicated, communities which are always, or typically in my region anyway, decreasing in population, are left with kind of a smaller pool of individuals that are capable of maintaining these systems. And so that's a big challenge in and of itself, trying to work with a community and tribal council that wants to continue to be energy sovereign, energy independent, or at least as best they can be, and manage their own utility amongst a continuously more complicated system.
So I always try to compare it to hybrid vehicles. A Toyota Prius is much more complicated to work on. And you need different degrees and different certifications than a 1988 Chevy 2500 pickup truck. And it's the same kind of thing as controls, as switchgears. As everything gets more complicated, we're trying to assist our communities in keeping those diesel generator plants and their energy infrastructure up to date to deal with challenges. So next slide.
This is a – also, I'll point out from the last slide, as you can probably see, many of those projects were supported by the Department of Energy. And again, I always try to take every opportunity to say this. We really, really appreciate their support, their ongoing support for our communities. And that hopefully will continue in the next administration. So the next slide is – this is a photo of the Lakeview Lodge. It's located in Minto, Alaska, one of my communities that has the good fortune of being on the road system.
They were relocated from old Minto in the 1980s due to constant flooding. And the BIA and Indian health services basically built a new community for the tribe. And this is a photo of the Lakeview Lodge. It oversees absolutely beautiful area, Tolovana Lakes. And you can see the Minto Flats beyond. Absolutely stunning community if anybody ever gets the chance to travel to Alaska.
And this building is kind of the base of the community. They do school lunches out of this building. They run the tribal transportation program, tribal operations. Everything in the community is kind of housed here. The tribal government – there's no city government in Minto. It's – everything's run by the tribe. And this is their base of operations. And they were going broke on energy costs. Next slide.
Obviously this building was built in the 1980s. And so construction practices aren't what then – or they weren't then what they are today. And so fast forward to 2013, they had a check signed and ready to mail for $35,000.00 for a new biomass system, which was maybe not necessarily what they needed. And we were able to get the Minto village council into the Department of Energy sponsored START program. And it really turned their energy outlook around basically.
They had a poorly insulated building. They didn't have really good, accurate information on their electric or their heating bills. They just knew that they were going broke. They were spending – I think they were going through about 10,000 gallons a year on heating fuel. This is an area that has upwards of 14,000 heating degree days a year. So to put that into perspective, it's roughly three to four times as cold as it is in Boston, Massachusetts. So a very cold area, very high energy costs.
Even Minto, which is on the road system, needs to get fueled trucked from Fairbanks, which is about 150-mile – 120-mile one-way trip on a dirt road. Next slide. And so we were able to work with the tribal administrator. They kind of came to Tanana Chiefs Conference. Or we worked with them regularly. So in conversation they brought this up that they were about to sign with a vendor that I guess I would say was not as interested in the wellbeing of the community as he was in selling a product.
I'm not sure if you can go back one slide. I think we may have missed one. And so we worked with the community and got them into the Department of Energy START program. Basically a herd of technical assistance providers descended on the community, had a series of community meetings, and worked with the leadership there to identify the biggest priority for the community, which was how can we reduce the energy bills on our main building. And so we were able to receive some funding from that opportunity, combine it with some funding the tribe already had, and do a large weatherization project on the building.
Much cheaper than building an entirely new building given the costs of construction today, especially up in rural Alaska, and the fact that most of our tribes, unlike lower 48 tribes, they don't have a land base. They don't have much of a source of income. Many communities and small villages are – BIA funds definitely just kind of help the community survive. And they don't give them much additional support to grow or develop. So the financial issues in our region are much different than some of the financial realities in the lower 48.
I guess I continuously get an education on that every time I go down to a larger meeting. So next slide. So we had a number of successes with this project. It was all local labor. The local housing authority was able to go up, complete the weatherization work. LED lighting was installed, upgraded thermostats, added four inches of foam throughout the building, replaced windows and doors. And the end result was a reduction in about – of about 50 percent in energy use, which was absolutely huge and can't be understated for this small community of about 200 residents.
They were able to reroute some of that funds just to kind of pay their bills, keep the community alive, keep staff members happy, et cetera. And another really big benefit of this building – and I just realized this about a year ago as I was talking to community members – is they can actually fully occupy the building. They didn't used to be able to put staff members in all of the offices because it was simply too cold in some of the offices, even with the heating system. And people often talk about the costs to operate and run a building, an office building.
And it actually kind of pales in comparison to the cost for – to pay salaries, et cetera, in the building. And so when you look at it that way, it definitely makes more sense to keep your employees happy and keep them warm. And so for Minto it enabled them to use the entire building now. They could spread staff out a little bit more. And then they actually saved a significant amount of money on their heating bills and their electric bills.
Because typically people would bring in those small, 2,000-watt space heaters to put under their offices, et cetera. And that drove up – not only was their heating bill very high, but their electric bill was very high, especially in the winter because of some of those costs. So again, really a huge success. And we can thank the Department of Energy START program for – not only did it help the community solve one of their big energy challenges, but it also – we – the community, they literally tore up the check before it got sent out to the vendor. It would've been a really poor system had they gone with a small biomass boiler because the underlying issue was a very poorly inefficient building.
And so instead of pouring a bunch of money into oil and then heating – burning the oil and sending that into the building and right out through the walls and windows, the would've been doing the same thing with biomass heat. It would still have been costing them an arm and a leg and utility costs. And it wouldn't have really solved the problem. But again, that vendor didn't necessarily – that wasn't his problem. He was trying to sell a product.
So the Department of Energy, my office, Alaska Energy Authority kind of all came in, worked with the community, and we got a much better project. And now after that building has been appropriately weatherized, we're in the final stages of a large biomass project that's going to heat both the Lakeview Lodge, the building that you just saw a photo of, and then the adjacent clinic and provide employment for a tribal member to keep the biomass boiler fired and then also provide employment for local wood vendors in Minto. Whereas before, we were trucking in fuel from Fairbanks, now we'll be able – the tribe will be able to purchase local wood from local wood vendors and then use that to heat their buildings, which is a huge step, again, towards energy independence.
Next slide. So why did I mention this building? I just kind of like to use it as an example of kind of the reality that we're seeing on the ground, the opportunities in the extreme cold region of Alaska that I work with. And then also, again, never miss any opportunity to thank the Department of Energy, Office of Indian Energy, and the Tribal Energy Program for their support on this project and other projects like these. And so other projects that I'm working on that – kind of issues, I guess, throughout the region are line loss in our villages.
We have about 13 standalone utilities that are not part of a larger utility cooperative. And so it's the small community, whether it's municipal or tribally owned, that's running the utility. And so take _____ for an example, one of my villages. They've got a population of roughly 80 to 90 people. And they run their own utilities. So out of that 80 or 90 people, they have to find their water plant operator, their city manager, their tribal administrator, their _____ worker, et cetera. And then they also have to find a person that can do billing, utility management, and operations and maintenance on a fairly complicated generator building.
And that is a huge challenge for this small community of 80 to 90 people. And so trying to support our communities in that is kind of one of my roles at Tanana Chiefs Conference. And you can see that graph on the left is a graph showing the line loss in one of our larger communities, _____. And I translated it to gallons of diesel. And so line loss in our villages is just the difference between electricity that's produced at the powerhouse and the sum of all the electricity that's sold out at all the meters.
And their line loss, the difference in that, was significant. And it accounted for – you can see one month, 11/1/2009, it was up around the equivalent of 16,000 gallons of diesel. That's pretty substantial just from line loss. So we went in, worked with the communities – remember, these are small, standalone villages. They don't necessarily have any technical assistance providers to call other than my office and folks that deal with every village in the state down at the Alaska Energy Authority. And so they're seeing these huge line loss numbers come in.
They don't have an engineering department they can call. They don't have a lineman on call that's professionally trained. They've got local folks in the community that are doing their best to keep the village utility running. But these are huge challenges that they're facing. And so again, just trying to strengthen their ability to manage their own energy future is a big priority. And so – and obviously also trying to integrate energy efficiency and renewable energy projects whenever we can in our villages. So next slide.
I'm gonna talk a little bit about some of the projects that we've been involved with. This is a photo that was – of a project that was funded by the Department of Energy Tribal Energy Program. _____ Yukon, which is up on – up in the Yukon Flats region of Alaska, about 200 miles – let me see – northwest of Fairbanks – or northeast of Fairbanks. I'm sorry. About an hour plane ride. And the community came to us and said, "Hey, we're interested in reducing our energy costs."
This building – you can see the kind of reddish pink building is their tribal operations admin office. They were paying about $20,000.00 a year in electricity costs in this very small office. And I can't remember their fuel bills off the top of my head. But significant energy costs in this very cold area of the state. And they said, "How can we reduce our energy costs?" And so we put together a package. Again, we went back, collected data, and planned and looked at where we could realize some savings.
And it ended up being additional insulation in the attic space. We increased the attic insulation to about R70 to R100 roughly. Added an 18-kw solar PV array. I heard somebody on the line say look at the angle or the tilt on the solar panels. It's about a 65 to 70 degree tilt that we've got on our panels. In my experience, I guess you can make adjustable tilt racks. But if you put them on a metal roof in the arctic, the chances of somebody changing the orientation might be fairly low.
So we typically set our panels at a fixed tilt, about 65 to 70 degrees, which is our latitude. So next slide. A lot of folks don't really realize that Fairbanks or Alaska specifically has actually decent solar PV possibilities. The photo on the left shows a difference between solar PV in Germany. The purple is very poor. Blue and green are better. Obviously we're nowhere near the lower 48. But when you look at us in comparison to Germany, which as very different energy challenges but the end goal is the same, they're trying to reduce their independence on imported natural gas, I believe from Russia.
So we're trying to reduce our dependence in Alaska in interior villages on imported diesel fuel. And you can see our resource on the – in the interior of Alaska is actually better than what they have in Germany. Not quite as good as you lucky folks in the lower 48, but pretty substantial, especially when the only other alternative really is diesel. And so as a result we've been trying to work with our communities in fitting these projects in wherever we can that focus on integrating solar PV into the small, diesel micro grids.
And there's many challenges there. You've got a small utility that's completely isolated. Again, I'll take _____ as an example. On average load of 40-kw, which is probably the average load of a medium sized office building in the lower 48. And so the challenges of integrating high penetration solar PV arrays into those small micro grids with sometimes untrained staff to do operations and maintenance, that's something that we're trying to work through, again with the end goal of reducing our dependence on imported diesel. Next slide.
So you can see this is kind of some photos from the project. I – as I said, I've probably got a touch of ADD. So one of the things I enjoy doing is going out and working with villages on building some of these projects to make sure that they get done right and to just basically support our communities any way I can. So I was kind of acted as the general contractor sort of on this project and worked with the community to get it completed. So we worked with a local vendor, got a very simple uni-strut rack array design and system.
And then the tribe gave me a few employees to work with. And this is a bad photo because it doesn't show us on any – in any safety gear. But we were wearing safety gear for much of the project. So next slide you can see the – basically the solar PV penetration of the building over the course of a year. So we're having – we've got fairly good solar PV penetration or generation really from March all the way through October. And so people always say, "Hey, solar doesn't work in the arctic." And they're right to an extent. We've got some months that solar PV, no, it doesn't really work.
But when your only other alternative is buying an expensive diesel fuel, this I would call a good start. I'm not as concerned about November, December, and January. If we've got to rely on diesels, well, that's fine. That's the baseline kind of where we are. But if we can reduce our fuel consumption throughout the rest of the year, I'd call that a win. And so skipping ahead to the next slide, if you guys can remember back to the photo, there's two different basically inverters. There's two lines of panels.
One is the top inverter. There's three strings. We used SMA transformer lifts 10,000–watt inverters. Two of those located in the tribe's utility room. The top string is represented by the – let me see. The top string or the top inverter, the higher portion of the array would be the lower graph on this slide. And then the lower inverter is the higher graph on this slide. And I apologize. It seems my formatting didn't quite pass over when I was copying and pasting slides.
But basically you can see that if you look at February and March, one of the inverters is producing a little bit more. And that's because the tribe in Fort Yukon was really excited about the project. And they have their janitor as one of his tasks now go out with a snow rake and a broom handle attached to it, he sweeps off the bottom array. Unfortunately, it doesn't quite reach up and over to the back array, but you can see we are getting quite a bit more solar PV electricity during February and March from the front array, which is swept off.
And so that's – we're kind of partially learning as we go. We decided to locate the solar PV array after looking at the costs and potential dangers associated with a ground mounting system, we decided to locate it on the building because of issues with youth in the community and the potential for things to get broken and then also the cost of the array. So locating it on the top of the tribal hall was where we decided to locate the system. Even though it wasn't perfectly south, it ended up being about 210 degrees, so slightly southwest. But the advantages outweighed the disadvantages.
So next slide. Just again, another graph. And again, a reason that I, I guess personally, and I would really encourage this for anybody that is looking to do solar PV or to do projects. You've really got to have good information for folks in the community. We've got very small communities up here. Just like the last speaker was saying, word travels around the community pretty quickly. And it was really cool to see folks instantly knew that we had eliminated the tribe's electric bill for the month as soon as we turn it off.
And people were going around town with quite a bit of pride that they had shut off from the utility, which was great. And obviously again kind of a lessons learned. In a small community of about 500 residents with a very small utility, we've definitely got to be cautious about making sure that our utility stays strong in that community. When they lose a customer of about $2,000.00 a month, when utility loses that customer, that's a substantial impact. And so we're trying to move past thinking of utility kind of as the foe, and they're most certainly a partner.
And we're hoping that this is gonna be more of an informative project for the utility. The CEO of the utility is also on the tribal council board. So it's a small community, and we're not trying to instigate anything. Just trying to bring new technology into the community and again reduce our reliance on imported diesel. So one of the important things from this slide that I try to make sure people are aware of is – and again, one of the reasons that I really like solar – we did our project planning using PV Watts, free software available from the National Renewable Energy Lab.
They developed – it's online. You just Google PV Watts. And we projected 16,884-kilowatt hours a year based on the tilt, the _____, et cetera. What we got last year was 16,890. So gosh darn, they were off by six kilowatt hours. Very upsetting. But pretty amazing that we can just kind of go online, put in information on the weather data – and obviously some years it's gonna be further off. Some years it's gonna be closer.
This was a very close year where our observed and our estimated were almost identical. But I guess for me one of the cool things about this is we didn't need to pay for a yearlong wind anemometer study. We were able to just kind of go online, use free software, and come up with estimates. And obviously you can pay for more detailed software to get you better estimates. But for us anyway, when we don't have too many options, this is really significant, being able to predict the electrical output very easily, very simply.
So next slide. So the results of this project, which was, again, 50/50 split between the Department of Energy and the _____ _____ tribal government, the local tribal government at Fort Yukon, we reduced their electric costs by about 68 percent over the course of a year and fuel use by about 35 percent. And I will note – and I'm kind of guilty of this myself – just like I was saying, everybody loves to see the photos of the solar PV arrays. Part of that project we also went in, did a community-wide – or not community-wide – a building-wide LED lighting retrofit.
And then we added a substantial amount of insulation to the attic of the building, so to trap the heat that was being generated. So we are not losing as much heat out through the walls. But a very substantial project that's keeping about $14,000.00 a year in the tribe's pocket, which is substantial for a small tribal government. That gives them additional money for needs that come up, potentially for part-time employees, internships with the youth in Fort Yukon, et cetera. And that's, again, our goal, is to try to give – to free up finances for our communities, make them a little bit less reliant on imported diesel.
And it's been pretty cool to see how the project has kind of progressed. I've got good friends down in Anchorage that used to live out in Fort Yukon. And they had a friend come down from Fort Yukon and visit them. And he was like, "You guys wouldn't believe what's happened. We've got solar in Fort Yukon. It's taken off – it's reduced the bill on the tribal hall." And so that kind of got up to me, and it was just kind of a really cool way of confirming that folks in the community are supportive of this.
We're trying to get them as good information as we can. But for a small community on the north bank of the Yukon River 200 air miles from Fairbanks, this is a really cool project. And folks are excited to see progress happening so that they don't feel as dependent on imported diesel. Next photo. This is a arctic village that's even further north than Fort Yukon. And the local housing authority kind of contacted my office at TCC and said, "Hey, we want to start doing solar PV on our buildings."
And so I was able to go up, lead a training with the local housing authority, show them how to install some very simple solar arrays. And really cool what we did here was – I was up there, and we did this first house. And they're starting to do these installations on more houses. We did the left side of the home. It basically took us a full day for that side. And then by the time I left on the morning plane, they had most of the next side done.
We used very simple enphase inverters. So they've got electricians up there than can wire an AC. And these enphase inverters are plug and play, almost impossible to screw up. But the really cool thing is that all your wiring is on the AC side of the world. So panels put out DC. Their electricians are used to wiring AC, so it makes it a lot more simple and easier for them to handle. And so what we did – and you can see the meter base on the right side of the house.
This is actually the first chief's house. And the utility wanted to make sure that they weren't seen as playing favorites, I guess. They were trying to – the housing authority was trying to move the village towards less reliance on imported diesel. But they also owned the utility. They didn't want to have a negative effect on the utility. And they didn't want any kind of squabbling, if you will, amongst community members saying, "Hey, how come the first chief got a solar array and we didn't?"
So we actually replaced the meter base with a duplex meter base. And so the electricity that's produced from this solar array goes back through the meter base and right out into the mains. And the first chief and anybody who gets a solar array is still charged the normal rate for electricity through a separate meter. It's a duplex meter base, so there's two meters in there. And so the goal is that this will reduce their diesel consumption, and over the long-term as more systems come online will be able to reduce the electric rates in the community.
But we – guys – folks who are on the line are probably aware of some political challenges that can happen in smaller communities. And we definitely wanted to avoid those. So next slide. Another thing that we're doing in our villages is solar on clinics. We – TCC is predominantly healthcare. And so they build and support many of the small clinics in our villages.
And they also seek funding for the installation of new clinics. And so on all new clinics we're trying to get solar PV incorporated into the design. The photo on the top right is Manley Village Council. It's a three-kw solar PV array on their clinic. And then below that it's _____. There's a five-pw array on their clinic. You can see some shading there. And we actually had to take some trees down to make that work a little bit better.
And then there's monitoring that we shared with the community and used for reference points. And so we can see we're taking on about and reducing about 20 percent of the load in the building. And that's kind of a good benchmark, 20, 25 percent of the electrical load in the building. If we can reduce that on each new building, that's a step in the right direction. And I'll also note that obviously our new clinics are extremely energy efficient.
We passed very high-energy efficiency standards at our annual convention in 2013 that called for R100 in the lid, in the ceiling R50, R70 walls – I'm sorry – and R50 floors. And that's because we're in the arctic and subarctic. We're very cold, very high-energy costs. But most of these buildings are designed by engineering and architectural firms that are down in Anchorage. They pay way less than 50 percent of the energy costs out in these communities.
Fewer heating degree days. And so it's a very different situation where the designers and architects and engineers are living than out in the villages. And there's a big difference in what they pay and also in how cold it is. And so to enable our communities to be able to achieve their goals, which was, hey, we want to pay less for electricity and less for heat, we felt it was important to give engineering and design teams standards to hit. And so they far exceed some of the international energy code standards that designers and engineers would otherwise have to use.
And they're kind of made for our climate in our area. Because we're very – we've got very unique instances and situations. And we don't want to bankrupt the communities. As they're trying to provide healthcare or trying to provide office space, et cetera for our tribes or tribal members, we want them to be able to afford those. And the same with new homes. Next slide.
And so another thing that TCC has been active on is regional energy planning, working with our communities and the different energy stakeholders – schools, tribal governments, city governments, utilities, village corporations, and regional corporations, and bringing folks to the table and saying, "Hey, what makes sense for everybody? How can we create a future for our communities that has less reliance on imported diesel fuel, creates more jobs for local tribal members, and makes our communities more sustainable?"
And the end result is basically there's no one size fits all approach. And as I like to say, there's no silver bullet, but a bunch of .22 shells might work. So we're trying to hit it on all fronts, taking down – we're working with energy efficiency projects, renewable energy, better operations and maintenance, et cetera. So the next slide. We recently received, Tanana Chiefs Conference did, a Department of Energy intertribal award that's going to allow us to continue some of the energy planning that we started, which is very successful.
Bringing community members into Fairbanks, which is kind of the hub for the region for quarterly or annual energy meetings. And then there'll be quarterly teleconferences where folks can share information, share ideas, and communities can basically gain support and get more ideas to build more projects. Kind of one of the ways information travels over the river is people in the summer especially go out to fish camps. They'll visit friends in different villages by boat.
And conversations in – over a coffee pot happen. "Hey, how come they got solar PV arrays down in _____, and we don't have any here in our town? Or how come they got a biomass system up there? We want to do a biomass system at our village." And so a lot of that information sharing is happening. And we're trying to bring that to the leadership teams in each of our communities and share really good, solid information so we can get priorities for our villages and then obviously help them implement them.
And next slide. So I'd like to think that my program at Tanana Chiefs Conferences, that our villages had a lot of different successes in trying to reduce their reliance on imported diesel fuel. And all new homes we're trying to reduce the amount of diesel fuel that gets burned. So many of our tribe members are low to moderate income. And so if they get a new home that's constructed and then they're put in that home, it's not necessarily sustainable if they're paying $4.00, $5.00, $8.00 a gallon and burning through 500 to 800 gallons a year. That's a big challenge.
Some folks even in Fairbanks where I'm at, a lot of homes built in the pipeline era of 1970s, two by four walls, very poorly insulated. Some folks are paying more for their heating bills than they are for their mortgage. And that's a huge challenge for community vitality and sustainability. And so we're working through what we can, decrease – try to decrease electric rates, working to consolidate some of our smaller utilities and form tribal utility cooperatives.
Again, very spread out. Our region is roughly the size of Texas. Hundreds of miles between communities. And so communication is challenging, and the distances are far. So how can we consolidate, bring some of the utility collaboration, some of the professionalism and experience, I'll say, that other utilities that are part of a larger cooperative have access to? How can we help some of our smaller communities get access to those – that same technology, that same kind of level of service?
And then another thing that I'll bring up that some of our communities have really taken on is just renewable portfolio standards. Number of states throughout America have done it. Texas has a very high renewable portfolio standard. It's incentivized a bunch of wind. The state of Alaska has one which is specifically aimed at a hydro project which they're probably not going to hit.
But many states have taken on renewable portfolio standards, basically a goal saying, "Hey, we as a community or we as a state want to hit this percentage of renewable energy in ten, 20 years, et cetera." So we work with tribal leaders and say, "Hey, you guys are sovereign governments. If you guys want to move forward, let's create some goals." And so we wrote some renewable portfolio standards for different communities that were passed by – I know Hughes has one. I believe _____ is looking at one that say, "Hey, our community is – we're looking at reducing our reliance on imported diesel.
And by the year of 2025 we're trying to offset 30 percent of the fuel burned in our powerhouse which renewable energy or through energy efficiency." It doesn't matter what it is, but it just kind of states this is a priority for the tribe, for the community. And this is the direction that they're trying to head. And so last slide.
Just kind of wanted to close, again, by saying thanks to the Department of Energy and the Tribal Energy Program for all the support that they have been able to give us over the last few years in working with small, rural communities across the interior of Alaska and across Indian country and small villages across Alaska. And we really appreciate the support. And I appreciate being asked to participate in the webinar. Thanks so much.
Randy Manion: Thank you, Dave. And that concludes the presentation part of today's webinar. We have a few minutes for a Q&A. So bear with me while I see what questions have come in. Travis, a question for you. You mentioned your presentation was typically a two-day workshop. When is the next two-day workshop for your presentation?
Travis Lowder: That's a good question. And I don't know if I have an answer. I believe that the Department of Energy's Office of Indian Energy and Enrail are currently in the process of determining when those workshops are gonna be held. But we have not released a schedule yet. So I believe these workshops get posted on the Office of Indian Energy's homepage when they do come up.
So I would encourage you to check back there. And we will probably make a few announcements, as well, as we settle on dates in the coming months.
Randy Manion: All right, great. Thank you. David Messier, question for you. Any micro hydro opportunities through TCC?
David Messier: Yeah, that's a great question. It's something that we've looked at. I was actually involved in one of the first micro hydros run of the river hydrokinetic projects in the state back in 2010. When I first came on they kind of threw me into it. And that was a – basically something that kind of looked like a fish wheel or a – it was supposed to create electricity just – you place it in the river on a pontoon boat.
And it was creating electricity and sending that over to shore. Kind of different than the typical hydro project where you've got a penstock, more controlled water, et cetera. And the end result, I guess, of that – we tried it for a number of years, spent a lot of money, a lot of time and energy on it. And for that particular project I would say we produced probably $300,000.00 or $400,000.00 in staff time and effort and et cetera. And then I installed a 4-kw solar PV array in about a week.
And it produced more electricity in one month than we did in three years with the hydrokinetic project. So it kind of – for me anyway, I was like, well, I've got limited time and energy. Where can I spend my resources and time most wisely? And so that technology was only viable – in some areas you can do for longer than this, but in some of our communities the hydro resource they've got is along a river. And so far the technology that I've seen for getting large amounts of electricity from slow moving water in a river system has been really limited.
We've got a lot of debris issues. And then the rivers freeze up for six months of the year. So that reduces the potential electricity from them. And it increases your kind of mobilization, demobilization time. It's not something you can leave in place. You've got to kind of pull it out, put it back in. And then we do have some smaller, kind of more typical micro hydro opportunities that we're in the process of evaluating.
But again, most of the – micro hydro is very site specific. You've got to have a decent water source and decent head elevation drop. And that's kind of an interesting combination that we don't have too many opportunities for, plus the cost of those micro hydro systems is incredibly expensive if you don't expenses for the electricity that's gonna be produced, if you can only get electricity from them for six months of the year or what have you, and you've got a community of 40 people, the economies of scale are very challenging. It is something that we look at, but so far, unfortunately, have not had any success with.
And I will say that the folks down in the northeast part of the state down in _____, _____, _____, et cetera, those guys have a lot of hydro opportunities. Very high mountains, very close to the ocean, and a lot of rain, and more months that things don't freeze up. So they've got more opportunities, I'd say, than us. We're looking for opportunities but haven't really found any that match up easily.
Randy Manion: All right. Thanks, Dave. Joe, a question for you. Let's see here. Why did you partner with Sun Renew versus someone else?
Joe Bresette: Okay. A good question. What happened was Sun Renew was doing a project here in _____ at the town – some of the town facilities. And they had been familiar with some of the tribal facility use previously. So they knew a little bit about our loads. And they knew a little bit about our operations. And so when the tribe decided to make the application, they said, "Well, how can we gather this information?"
So we just called them up and had them come up and meet with the tribal council. And they had everything we needed. And so from there we needed to do all the technology question answering, and they were able to provide it immediately. So it were just a quick relationship that benefitted both parties.
Randy Manion: Excellent, thank you. Well, we're gonna go ahead and conclude the webinar for today. Again, I want to thank David Conrad, David Messier, Joe Bresette, and Travis Lowder for doing a great job. And that – this also concludes the 2016 tribal webinar series. We'll kick off the 2017 tribal webinar series in January. Again, it's the last Wednesday of the month. And we'll be sending out all the marketing materials on that towards the end of December.
Happy holidays to everybody, and we'll talk to you next year. Bye-bye.
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