Randy Manion: – wherever you may be and welcome to the ninth webinar of the 2016 DOE Tribal Renewable Energy Webinar series. Today's webinar is strategic partnerships for clean energy and economic development. I'm Randy Manion, today's webinar chair. I'm manager of Western Area Power Administration's Renewable Resource Program. Let's go over some event details first.
Today's webinar is being recorded and will be made available on DOEs Office of Indian Energy Policy and Program's website, along with copies of today's PowerPoint presentations in about one week. Everyone will receive a post-webinar e-mail with a link to the page where the slides and recording are located. Because we are recording the webinar today, all phones have been muted and we'll answer all 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 type in your question. And if you've entered your audio pin when you joined, at the end of the webinar you can raise your hand and I'll unmute you and you can ask our panel your question directly.
We'll try to keep the webinar to no more than 90 minutes, and we have several speakers today, so let's get started with opening remarks from Doug Maccourt. Doug is a Senior Policy Advisor to the Director and staff of the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, and works throughout DOE and with other federal and state agencies on policy, legislative and funding issues that are critical to the office's mission of developing and deploying clean energy and related economic development projects in Indian country. He has more than 25 years of experience working with tribes, Alaska native corporations and tribal business enterprises on all aspects of energy development and natural resource matters. Doug published the Renewable Energy Development in Indian Country Handbook for Tribes and is listed in the Chambers USA America's Leading Lawyers for Business and Best Lawyers in America for Native American Natural Resource Law.
Doug, with that, it's a pleasure to have you back and the virtual floor is now yours.
Doug Maccourt: Well, thank you very much Randy, and hello everyone joining us in – on the phone and through the webinar. I join Randy in welcoming you to the ninth webinar of this 2016 series and in particular, this discussion on partnerships is so important and so critical to the success and the advancement of clean energy in Indian country. I'm really looking forward to the discussion today. Just a little bit on what we're trying to accomplish with the webinar series. It's sponsored by two US Department of Energy organizations, the Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, and Western Area Power Administration.
It's designed to promote tribal energy efficiency and to foster economic development and employment on tribal lands using renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies. So, as we say the Office of Indian Energy directs, fosters, coordinates and implements energy planning, education, management and programs that assist tribes with energy development, capacity building, energy infrastructure, reducing or at least stabilizing energy costs and building out electrification of Indian lands homes and businesses and government facilities. In order to do that, we work within the Department of Energy across all of the offices, across other government agencies and with all of the 567 federally recognized tribes, including Alaska Native ______ regional corporations to promote Indian Energy policies and initiatives. And, help Indian tribes overcome the barriers to more energy independence.
So in order to do that, Indian Energy has developed several programmatic initiatives and partnerships. This series is an example of the type of education and capacity building efforts we develop within our other DOE partners. And as the folks on the phone I'm sure know, capacity building and getting that at, not only to governmental level in tribal governments, but throughout the membership as well as those partnerships with non-tribal businesses is so critical to success. I – we talked about statistics and I'll just give you one. As most of you may know, Indian land contains an estimated five percent of all US renewable energy generation potential.
And the significant potential in renewable resources on tribal lands represent the – really, as of yet, an untapped opportunity for tribal economic development. It points us to clean energy deployment as a vital pathway to economic sovereignty for tribal nations. In addition to improving health and quality of life in tribal communities, energy development supports stronger economies in the surrounding communities and regions. So, today we're going to focus on strategic partnerships for clean energy and economic development project regulatory considerations. Just a couple of the highlights we want to focus on include aligning economic development and clean energy development strategies and policies.
How to leverage resources of all types, reducing or at least removing policy and program barriers and siloes, something we're working very hard in, the department as well as other agencies. And identifying the emerging opportunities and challenges that clean energy industries face in the near and long terms. We're also going to discuss opportunities and examples of tribal partnerships with federal, local and non-profit agencies that help support community development goals and activities and provide a case study that will highlight key tribal partnerships and help move a tribe closer to completing its low carbon community micro-grid project. With… Blue Light _______. And we're really excited to have them as a climate action champion and a smaller tribe that has really moved the needle forward on how tribes can succeed in clean energy development.
One thing I'll note right here is if we don't get into some specific areas such as how do you start the conversation around a partnership? What kind of vehicles are needed to kind of get those early foundations for partnerships moving along, whether they're instruments like memorandums of understanding or some of the contractual details. How do you put forth a good business plan? If we don't touch on some of those but you have questions, we really, really want your feedback and your questions and we're going to save as much time as we can at the end of the presentations for that. So, in concluding, just to note that we have another two webinars remaining in this series of 2016.
Each webinar builds upon the previous webinars and tries to complement the information that we learned in each of those. Ultimately, the foundation is strategic energy planning, and we often undervalue or overlook benefits of economic development in that planning process. In each of the 2016 monthly webinars, we've been trying to include tribal case studies and information and hands on tools you can use to progress towards self-determination and energy independence. But, we really need your feedback in this and you can always reach us at doe.gov/indianenergy and our contact information, as well as this and other webinars as Randy said, will be available on our website.
So let us know if we're meeting your needs or if we need to go further or in different directions. With that, I'll turn it back over to Randy. Thank you very much.
Randy Manion: Thanks Doug. And we have three additional speakers today. Alex Dane, Jana Ganion and James Zoellick. And I'll provide a brief introduction about each of them now. Alex Dane is a Certified Group Leader at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. He specializes in strategic energy planning and sustainable community development for local government. He has advanced degrees [phone rings]. I apologize for that. [Laughs].
He has advanced degrees in urban planning and public administration, recently has been working with tribes in the west and Alaska to implement renewable projects and long range planning. Jana Ganion is the Energy Director at Blue Lake Rancheria in California. Jana has established the Tribes Energy Plan and has implemented a wide array of renewable energy assets and energy efficiency upgrades to reduce the tribe's carbon footprint. And James Zoellick is the Senior Research Engineer at the _____ Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University and he is currently working with the tribe to install low carbon community micro-grid projects. So with that, Alex, give me a moment to pull up your slide deck and we'll get started.
Alex Dane: Great, thanks Randy. I guess we're all wondering what that ringtone was too.
Randy Manion: My mistake.
Alex Dane: Well, happy to be on the webinar today. And I'm glad that Doug hit on some highlights there. If you're looking for specific examples of different vehicles that can get you from step one to step two, step two to step three, he'll be on the call for the Q and A component at the end of the webinar. Hopefully get a good lively discussion going on some of the best practices out there. So, at a high level I'll be talking about some of the federal resources that are out there. University, non-profit and foundation.
When you talk about partnerships, there's elements of forging those at the federal, state and local level and there's also resources that partnerships can pursue to achieve some of their clean energy goals and energy project development. So, in that regard, as Randy mentioned, I'm an urban planner but I love working at the local level and, sort of, the economic development issues that unique communities have and different opportunities that lay before them. So, I invite you to put on your economic development, community development manager hat, administrator hat with me as we walk through some of these slides here. So let's jump into the first one. So, there are – the concept of building partnerships are in the abstract, but let's ground those in some of the foundational strategic energy planning process that Doug mentioned before, and the project development and finance process.
At each of these different stages and sort of steps, as you walk through, either planning process and the comprehensive manner, or the project development and finance process, there's different partnerships and there's different resources that really plug in well to different elements here. So, as we walk through, if we think about strategic energy planning at the foundational first step take, before diving into specific project development and finance strategies I thought we could walk through what are some federal resources out there. What are some program resources that are effective to partner with within the planning context first.
And then there's some certain federal programs out there that support both the planning process and project development and finance. And then there's other resources out there that are pretty uniquely suited to the project development itself. So, as we go through these slides, we'll kind of codified them for where they fit in well. So, let's jump into what are some of the federal program resources that match well with the strategic energy planning process.
The federal landscape is a big one as far as what's out there, and standing up an LLC, an 8A, _______ resource development corporation, what sits out there as a support to that? And one of the first things that we can look to is you go through the planning process and you're pulling that leadership team together, and you're pulling a project team together, the FDA, the US FDA has an office near the American Affairs and they help sort of craft the policy and program direction of resources that are suited in this realm to building and helping forge Native owned – tribal owned businesses out there. So, the US Department of Commerce has their economic development assistance programs and that – those are two prime resources out there to help stand up to the formation of different entities jumping into the development business. And seeking to develop that in-house capacity that staff – standing up that staff doing some business strategic planning, coming up with business plans and things like that.
On a more – they – the volunteer/community supported efforts, there's the Americore program as well, which is helpful for building up some of that in-house capacity. The Vista program, I'm sure many people are familiar with. These are great programs and resources for getting the human capacity element lined up for jumping into further project development process. Let's go to the next slide. So I didn't know where to put this one, it's a little bit of an outlier.
But, when you're going through the planning process, and there are, say, projects that come up related to transportation. Sometimes this Department of Transportation program doesn't get as much daylight as it should, but it's a unique one out there that's really aligned with the strategic energy planning process that we have. And from NREL's perspective, we think of clean energy including sort of clean energy as part of transportation and mobility and walkability and things like that. So, another program out there that's useful to access, if you're interested in going through the comprehensive planning process but have the focus on transportation, and what that looks like is the National Rural Transit Assistance program, and especially the Tribal Technical Assistance program that goes into that.
So you could think of the Department of Energy and the Office of Indian Energy has their on demand technical assistance for a lot of these clean energy projects, but there's also a parallel program out there that's useful for transportation planning and the intersection of transportation planning with economic development planning. I was recently down working with the Puebla in New Mexico, and they're doing some development along I25, that transportation corridor, and looking at some of the land use that they have adjacent to different stops along that highway. So, that's kind of an example of where I think the DOT Tribal Technical Assistance program intersects a little bit with the economic development planning efforts out there. Let's go to the next slide.
Again, building up the human capacity that the team side of addressing project developing and finance, of addressing clean energy development, what is out there? The US Department of Education does have a Native American Career and Technical Education program. There's a big push in this administration to support stem education and a lot of the foundational sciences that go into the interest that is being piqued for clean energy deployment sitting out there. So, when we look at the strategic energy planning process and we're coming up with projects and programs, that there's an interest in developing that in-house expertise and capacity and growing the capacity of the membership, the tribal membership as a whole. We'd be remiss to not consider what sits out there within the US Department of Education as well.
Next slide. Okay, so we're starting to bridge from the planning process into what are some resources out there and federal partners for project development, finance and strategy. And under BIA, there are a few different programs. The second one, I'm sure there's some folks on the line who are familiar with the Office of Energy and Economic Development and their project focus. But, in the recent past year and a half, two years or so, BIA has stood up their climate resilience program, which does a little bit more of that comprehensive planning approach. So one of the drivers in this office's perspective for going into the climate – going into a comprehensive planning process, is climate resilience, and understanding what are some projects and economic development projects that are aligned with climate resilience itself.
Right now, BIA is standing up the, sort of tribal liaisons on a regional sense across the lower 48 and I know they're doing work in Alaska as well. And, they're doing a great job in coordinating what resources are out there. I would encourage checking out their website, they have a nice dashboard up on – they're starting to populate it with some unique information for certain tribes and certain regions on not only climate data and climate forecast, but translating that into sort of actionable ways to use that within the planning process. And ways to use that when you're identifying and prioritizing capital improvement projects.
Next slide. Another federal agency that is very invested in working with tribes is HUD. And especially the office of Native American Programs. They also support the ICDBG programs, so that would be the Indian Country Development Block Grant programs, so these annual funds that come down for community based investments, are sort of back ended by technical assistance through regional office of Native American Program outreach efforts. One of the ones that we receive a lot of information from is the South West office of Native American Programs and they do a great weekly newsletter of federal opportunities as well as state and local opportunities in the south west region, that tribes can access or training and education as well as financing and funding opportunities that are sitting out there.
And again, this is – there are regional contacts, there are regional points of contact within HUD and within BIA. So when you're going into a community development project, for community facilities, the folks at HUD would certainly be receptive and supportive and able to provide some level of technical assistance for those types of things. And for BIA as well, when you're looking at the division of economic development, which is part of IEED and the division of energy and mineral development as well. Next step.
Our friends at the Department of Energy, again, as a federal resource, they do have the on-demand technical assistance offered when you're working with tribes. So, as we go through and we think through what kind of different partnerships are best suited for moving the ball forward, that conversation can continue from today by tapping into the expertise within the national labs that the Department of Energy funds. As well as having Doug on the phone right now today, which is great. There's a recent notification of funding available out there for first steps and project development grant programs that was recently released and the Department of Energy does a great job in funding not only the planning process, but actual ______ in the ground projects as well.
So that's kind of why both of those different icons are up there. And, but it's been a couple of weeks, so maybe two long for me to actually poke around on the website, but the energy development assistance tool that is on the DOE office of Indian Energy website is fantastic. I was using that, and that's a picture in the middle there, and you can kind of sort through the types of assistance that you're looking for. Whether that's grant information or technical assistance and eligibility, and it has this kind of great sort and filter functionality where you're able to get to the information you want quickly. Next slide.
And there's the announcement itself, so please do check that out. That is an announcement that went out – when the narrative around it went out, looks like two days ago at this point. So, I'm sure Doug can shed more light on that, and explain the opportunity that that presents a little bit more. Next slide. USDA, as far as a federal partner and resources, they're deeply invested, once again, in planning and project development. And when we're talking about standing up, the Tribal LLC, Tribal business, there are resources to help with that economic development first step that needs to be taken. They have the Rural Business Enterprise Grant program, which is great for that in-house capacity building.
And then all the way through to the REA program, the Rural Energy for America program and by the most recent permutation in the _______ of what that looks like, but USDA is one of the largest, if not the largest funder of renewable energy projects in the country. So, anywhere from standing up the business all the way to executing a project, USDA, their rural development, there's key contacts, there's field offices in every state, and those people are there to pick up the phone when you call. So they're helpful to have on board. Next slide.
US Department of Treasury, they run a – I'm sure _____ knows more about this, but the new market tax credit program and what is available to tribal community development finance institutions. I do pause on this, this is some of the… there's a large opportunity for cross-functional partnerships and teams at the tribal level to be formed by using their current CDFIs, Tribal CDFIs and existing tribal housing authorities. These types of entities have the fiduciary capacity in house to receive some of the annual federal funding that comes through, as well as partner for competitive funding that is out there. To partner with the tribal entity itself. The projects that get executed under CDFIs are aligned with a number of different federal competitive programs out there as well as tribal housing authorities.
So, looking into the future at your, say your capital improvement plan, or your housing plan and the conversations that are being had should be taking place with – between the tribe's Economic Development Director, whoever that is and the CDFI and housing authority. Because these are inextricably linked to some degree. And, when there's a federal review committee, these types of partnerships and this type of in-house capacity sometimes speaks to a level of confidence in investing in a – sort of, a tribal project or program. Next slide. So in pursuing a project or pursuing, say, a federal grant program or opportunity, there's a number of Indian Higher Education colleges out there, that's the map on the bottom.
So, I – we don't have time to jump into all of them, but these are unique opportunities to grow, sort of, the capacity, the knowledge capacity, the local and regional capacity in concert with tribal goals for doing clean energy development. And as well as pulling sort of that knowledge transfer of what's happening at the university for tribal benefit. It northern Arizona, although not part of AIHEC, there are some unique programs. These are just examples, 'cause we'll hear a little bit more from other higher education institutions coming up here. But, northern Arizona has a great example of receiving federal funding and targeting that for the federal – for the tribal audience through different policies, rural policies, economic impact and technical assistance that's available for tribes that are interested in this as well.
So I just wanted to throw those two examples out there of American Indian Higher Education, but also within different university systems and using northern Arizona as an example, there are federal funds that come in and they're mandated and used for tribal assistance. Next slide. This is a big universe of non-profit partners and I just wanted to put an example of good alternatives up there. That is a unique technology specific programs within the adoption of solar PV at the residential and LMI, low to moderate income, communities. And working with those, not only to install solar and increase the adoption of PV technology, but also to build the capacity on the ground of local installers and working with tribes to do that. _____ fantastic program out there, and this is just one example of the non-profit partner that works in a very technology specific way with tribes.
On the next slide, when we're reaching out as a tribe and you're looking for different funding resources, there's a number of foundations that are out there that are annually required to spend a certain percentage of what they have in assets on grants. On technical assistance. So, annually, some of these big funders, they are mandated to spend money to further what their specific missions are. And these are a smattering of different foundations that all do invest in tribal communities in some regard. This is a lot of capacity in education, so some of the planning process that we mentioned before.
They do play a role in that, as well as public health as well. So, annually, millions of dollars are being spent for specific tribes on specific initiatives. _____ go. So, staying in the know, there's a lot of programs that are out there. I'd say our guide, our role at NREL supporting DOE within the on-demand technical assistance is to help navigate of who to reach out to when in the process. And how that can be most effective. We've worked with tribal partnerships with the Northern Puebla Housing Authority for example.
Working on a one megawatt solar development, and kind of that partnership between the tribe, and the in-housing, the regional housing authority to work towards that project development and that economic development activity. Right now, NREL is working with, and DOE is supporting the recovery efforts up in the Pine Ridge reservation with the Oglala Sioux and we're seeing an interesting intersection between the partnership of the tribe and their local CDFI, I believe it's Thunder Valley, in supporting the weather – the development of a weatherization program.
So when you have these combinations of local authorities and development authorities with tribal interest and goals, it certainly catches the ears and attention of some of the federal programs that are out there to administer their resources. Inter-tribal partnerships are certainly encouraged in the lower 48 as well as Alaska and working at that regional level. BIA is targeting their technical assistance and climate resilience program at the regional level, and that type of alignment is helpful when you're going about shared threats and vulnerabilities facing a number of tribes within a specific geographic region. And, finally there's another resource out there, it's called the Regional Integrated Science Agency, ____ ______ through NOAA right now. And these are regional entities that are out there to support climate projections and climate adaptation planning.
So, we can help navigate those and the resources that they have for tribes as well. So, I'll stop there.
Randy Manion: Thank you Alex. And Jana and Jim, just give me a moment to get your deck pulled up.
Jana Ganion: Sounds good.
Randy Manion: Okay, you're good to go.
Jana Manion: Okay, thank you. Well, we really want to thank all the attendees for taking time out of their day to have this discussion. And we will get through our slides relatively quickly hopefully, and then leave some adequate time for Q and A because I think that's when a lot of the good stuff happens. So, we're here to talk about today obviously strategic partnerships for clean energy and economic development, and I will tell you that from the Blue Light Rancheria tribe's perspective, when the tribe started to turn it's head toward energy development for all the good reasons that it does that, we knew we didn't have enough internal capacity to do it on our own. And that we would have to form strategic partnerships to do it.
So, we're going to talk about one key partnership today with the Schatz Energy Research Center at Humboldt State University, but we'll also talk about some of the other partnerships that have been instrumental in achieving what we've been able to achieve. So far today, it's been energy and economic development. Next slide please. So, today obviously I'm here, and [laughs] we have invited our key partner James, or Jim Zoellick from the Schatz Energy Research Center to also join us and talk a little bit about the partnership from the Schatz Lab's perspective.
And some of the good work that the Schatz Lab has done with other tribes in our region. And Indian energy and economic development in general. We're going to go over the micro-grid project in some detail, but we'll move relatively quickly through that. And then we'll talk about some additional stakeholder groups we work with, and then again, we'll keep some time for Q and A at the end. Next slide please.
So, we always like to start with a sense of place. We are located in far northern California. You go to either San Francisco and Sacramento and you drive six hours north. Next slide please. The Blue Lake Rancheria is located on the shores of the Mad River. The tribe's property spans the Mad River. It was initially established in 1908, it's a very small tribe, it has 51 members but it has a fairly big scope regionally, including several economic enterprises and about 400 employees. About 200 visitors – I'm sorry, 2000 visitors to the property daily.
And, among the latest energy work that we've done over the last two years, one of the most important partnerships has been as a result of appointed to ICEIWG, which is the Indian Country Energy and Infrastructure Working Group, that was chartered by the Department of Energy Office of Indian Energy. And, that has been a central component of our ability to get our energy and economic development projects done. Next slide please.
So now I'll turn it over to Jim for a little bit about the Schatz Energy Research Center.
James Zoellick: Thanks Jana. So, as Jana said, the Schatz Energy Research Center is located at Humboldt State University. We are affiliated with the Environmental Resources Engineering Program at Humboldt State, and we are under the umbrella of the Humboldt State University Sponsored Programs Foundation. The Schatz Energy Research Center was founded in 1989, so we've been in existence for a little over 25 years. Currently we have a staff of about 30 people. That includes faculty, it includes a number of full time professional staff such as myself.
I've been there, working there now for 21 years and actually was an engineering student earlier in my career and life at Humboldt, and then went off and worked professionally and then came back to the University. And then we also – there's a big focus being at a university on education opportunities and educational work, and so we provide an opportunity for students, both undergraduate and graduate students to get involved in real world energy projects. Including many of the tribal energy projects that we've taken on. We do a wide variety of work, energy research, energy planning and analysis, and then project oriented work in terms of demonstration projects and deployment of energy technologies.
And the slide gives you kind of an idea. We actually got our start in the area of hydrogen fuel cells and hydrogen technology. That was actually our benefactor, Mr. Schatz, donated the first amount of money for a solar hydrogen project. So it was to demonstrate the use of hydrogen as a way of storing renewable energy. So, we did that for quite a while but have, over the last decade or so, really branched out quite dramatically and we have work that goes on in the developing world in terms of energy access and quality assurance for solar off-grid lighting.
We're doing quite a bit of biomass energy work now. We have a large project currently funded by the Biomass Research Development Initiative, looking at use of waste from the biomass industry and material from fuel reduction efforts and waste from ______ and so forth. We've also done a lot of energy planning work, here in our – the rural, northern part of our – of the state of California, and that's included work in the area of transportation in terms of alternative fuel vehicles. Largely with electric vehicles now, kind of coming into the transportation sector. We've actually done some planning and then deployment of a – and this was also in a partnership with a local government entity here to develop a infrastructure of 10 charging stations in our region to kind of get our region going for electric vehicle infrastructure.
And then we've done quite a bit of strategic renewable energy planning work from planning feasibility and analysis type of work, and then to project deployment. I think that's good for that slide. Next slide please.
Jana Ganion: So, some of the – this kind of will echo some of Alex's slides about the steps and the process that Blue Light Rancheria tribe has followed. Although, maybe not quite in the perfect order. [Laughs]. That a planning – that perfect planning progress would follow. But, the Rancheria has a defined energy vision and when Doug Maccourt was giving his opening remarks, he brought up a good point, which is if people on the phone are wondering how to just get out there and start developing these strategic partnerships, one of the things that I think is important, it has been successful for us, is to articulate your energy and economic vision and goals. And it doesn't have to be overly complicated or a 50 page paper. It can look a lot like this.
Which – just come up with three or four bullet points of what you want to achieve. That allows you to triangulate with funding opportunities, with other opportunities that might be happening in your region, and then you can just pick up the phone and call people and provide them a little bit of information and start working on bringing stakeholders into your particular project or goal. Next slide please. So, the Blue Lake Rancheria energy activities are listed here. We always worry about energy efficiency, but all of these – and obviously we are implementing community scale renewables. We are looking at regional, community and utility scale renewables, so we have kept our eye and are keeping our eye on many different parallel tracks of economic and energy development.
Both locally and nationally. But all of these projects that we were able to – that we have been able to accomplish to date have been a result of strategic partnerships. Our energy efficiency retrofits for example, were in a large part due to the partnership we have with a local joint powers authority, or joint powers agency, called Redwood Coast Energy Authority. And they are – among many other great works that they do in the community, they are a clearing house for many of our utility based incentives in California. They deploy a bunch of the incentives for energy efficiency measures among other things that we would never have known existed.
And it's because of their good efforts that we have been able to reduce our energy consumption by a significant amount, and it wouldn't have happened otherwise. So, a couple of other things that we're doing, we'll talk about the micro-grid in a minute. We have done demand response programs for over 20 years now, with our local utility. That's been an amazing partnership, and we'll get – I'll give you some more details on that in a minute. We have bio-diesel manufacturing and bio-diesel public transit system that started as a graduate student project with engineering students from Humboldt State University.
And, these projects are overseen by obviously professors, and it was a feasibility to take the waste oil from the tribe's kitchen and turn it into a useful product to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The reports came back and they were so compelling that actually the tribe said, well this is a fantastic idea, we're going to implement it. And today, we have a successful manufacturing facility, that has a very small footprint, but a very large impact on reducing our greenhouse gases from our tribal transit. The electric vehicle charging stations which you see in the picture here are a part of a project that we worked with with the Schatz Energy Research Center and Redwood Coast Energy Authority. As Jim mentioned, it is a county wide effort to implement energy – electric vehicle infrastructure in a way that is specifically modeled and proven to be most effective in terms of practical reduction of range anxiety and other components that go into electric vehicle infrastructure implementation.
Next slide please. So, we'll talk about the micro-grid just for a couple of minutes. Why are we doing it? Well, for these reasons, but specifically I want to focus on the rising energy prices and tenuous supply. Humboldt County, a part of Jim's work at the Schatz Energy Research Center, was to come up with a regional strategic plan for transitioning to, in a measured, meaningful way, to renewable energy. And part of that strategic plan identified some of the risks that we face up here.
That we are connected to the larger grid by a single, 70 megawatt transition – transmission line for example. But, also the tribe has had a couple of wake up calls, specifically around power outages that are frequent on the north coast of California, and also the specific 2011 Fukushima earthquake and tsunami events, where people in this region self-evacuated by the thousands away from the coast because they didn't know how severe the resultant tsunami was going to be as it came across the Pacific.
We knew then that we had to prepare for – we had to continue our climate action work, but we also had to prepare for resilient infrastructure, because we are a remote evacuation site from the coast. Along the major arterial. And people are going to come to Blue Lake Rancheria for services in the event of emergency, so we need to be prepared for them. Next slide. This is a snapshot, and I'm sorry it's a little bit grainy, of how many earthquakes we experience here on the north coast.
It's fairly significant. It's hundreds. [Laughs]. And so we're at the – we're basically at the nexus of a triple junction of faults, including the Cascadia Subduction Zone, so it's really not a question of if it's going to happen, it's a question of when and how severe are these earthquake/tsunami events going to be. Next slide please. This is ultimately what the Fukushima earthquake looked like. This is the Mad River, the mouth of the Mad River where it empties out into the Pacific Ocean into the right of the slide that you're looking at.
It didn't turn out to be all that big here. However, next slide please. It still did a significant amount of damage. This is a snapshot of the Crescent City Harbor, which is just about an hour north of where we are, and so even a small tsunami has a large impact and this was a real recent wake up call for us. Next slide please.
And landslides like this – that – are arterials – are definitely annual events up here. A few months ago we had a rain event that actually managed to _____ three of our four arterials all at one time. So, we deal with these issues as well. Next slide. So, our micro-grid is a mini-grid and it – for emergency preparedness, it powers a certified American Red Cross shelter in place, which the Blue Lake Rancheria, in an example of a strategic partnership, executed a memorandum of understanding with the Red Cross. So we're ready to go should an emergency happen.
So, a few of the micro-grid details. We've implemented about a half a megawatt of solar, megawatt hour of battery storage. A few of our existing diesel generators, which we hope to minimize use of, with the micro-grid management systems. And the loads that we are going to provide for are our government office, Casino Hotel, events center and a few other out buildings and meters that are on that system. The goal is to meet about 35 percent or more of possible of our annual energy production for this campus, and displace about 700 megawatt hours per year. And that's a very conservative estimate. We want to be able to demonstrate finer grains but ultimately more demand response.
We want to take more of our power use off the grid in times of emergency. And, we want to of course be able to function on islanded power, separate from the main grid, for as long as we need it. Which this system will do. And of course, we want to save energy costs if we can, hopefully by about 30 percent again for this campus. And we want it to be a replicable model so that anyone who has maybe a similar set of circumstances who's interested in a micro-grid that layers in renewables and battery storage, please contact us.
We are very much behind knowledge transfer, because we know – for a couple of reasons. One, we know that emergency preparedness and resilience is something that tribal communities need, but also because the Blue Lake Rancheria by itself is too small to have an impact on where we need to go in terms of reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving our climate situation. So, please feel free to contact us for any of these details. Next slide.
I'm going to turn this over to Jim now to talk a little bit about the Schatz Lab and some of the – some more of the services. But the Schatz Lab is the leader on the micro-grid project. We have a grant from the California Energy Commission, so this is an example of a tribal state partnership that's fairly innovative. And, again, we wouldn't have this project without the participation of the Schatz Lab and Humboldt State University, and the Humboldt State University Sponsored Programs Foundation as the administrative lead. We simply would not be here, but because we have this partnership with them, we now have a six – roughly about a $6.6, 6.8 million project going in and $5 million of it came from the California Energy Commission Ethics Grants.
So, it's been a very successful partnership on almost every level, and I'll let Jim talk a little bit more about that.
Jim Zoellick: Thank you Jana. Yeah, I'll give just a little bit of background in terms of the funding from the California Energy Commission that Jana is referring to. This was not the first grant that we went after, and not the first grant that we were awarded from the California Energy Commission. Similar to the DOE Office of Indian Energy funding program, the California Energy Commission funds research and development. They fund planning studies and they fund deployment of technologies and actually on the ground projects.
And so we had applied for and been funded from the California Energy Commission to do some regional energy planning for Humboldt County. And Jana mentioned that previously, and the partner that she mentioned previously, the Redwood Coast Energy Authority, which is a joint powers authority made up of all of our local municipalities here in Humboldt County, they were our project partner in that project. So it was a regional energy plan, and the regional energy plan identified the needs and the risks that we face here in Humboldt County and also the large amount of local renewable resources that can be developed.
We basically followed that planning study. We then applied for funding to actually deploy projects. And, this is the second of two deployment projects that we were awarded in partnership with the Blue Lake Rancheria. So, it really went from planning to project development and project deployment. We're serving a – as the – so we were the prime applicant for that grant, we're serving as the project manager, managing the project as well as administering the project. We are the – basically the owner's engineer.
So, the Blue Lake Rancheria in this project is essentially the client. And we are representing them and working with them and on their behalf with the other project partners and the vendors that are providing the equipment. There is student participation in this project as well, and Jana has listed here on the slide a little bit about Humboldt State University more broadly. So, I think one of the things that – and Jana and I have talked about this – one of the things you get in partnering with a university, is it's almost like partnering with a large consulting firm that has many different teams or disciplines within their firm. Humboldt State University has a very strong engineering program, that's where the Schatz Energy Research Center is really based.
But, it also has a very strong forestry program, and the Rancheria has partnered with the forestry program to look at biomass resource opportunities. They have a strong business program, they have a strong economics program. We've used the economics faculty to do – help us with economic analysis on feasibility studies. So, that's really a big asset.
Jana Ganion: And I'll jump in here and say that the slide that Alex had put up about tribal universities. That was fantastic, because those universities are doing amazing work in many of these disciplines as well. And so that is a natural partnership. We happen to be in an area, and many tribes are in this other situation, where we don't have a tribal university close by. But we do have an amazing university close by.
Many of you listening may have other types of academic resources, so I just want to put a plug in that we really have had great success with that kind of strategic partnership. And, encourage you to explore what you have in your own regions. Whether it's a tribal university or whether it's a non-tribal university, if it's close to a tribe, for example in Humboldt State University's case, there is a large population of Native American students that attend there because there's a large number of tribal governments in this region. So, there's lots of synergies there around students coming up, career and college readiness and a lot of these other factors that are beyond the scope of this presentation today, but are important for a comprehensive energy and economic development strategy. Both near term and over successive generations.
James Zoellick: I'll just add a little bit more perspective from the university side of things. You know, there's a great value to the university in these partnerships. They really provide tremendous service learning opportunities, and service learning I think is something that's really important in students' education process. To take basically what they're learning in the classroom and be able to apply it in the real world, and there's nothing better than doing that in your local community and seeing results on the ground from the work that you're doing. Jana mentioned the bio-diesel project that the tribe has deployed here, and as she said, that started with student led projects.
So, for the students to be working on meaningful work, rather than just a problem out of a textbook, is really invaluable. And that really brings a lot of value to the university and to all the students who attend the university. With proper guidance and support, these students can generate some really quality work.
Jana Ganion: Next slide please. So, we talked a little bit about funding already. California Energy Commission is obviously a fantastic partner and a primary funder on this micro-grid project. But the Blue Lake Rancheria has also made a significant investment. And then we have also been very fortunate to have partners which we'll see in a minute, contribute matching funds and really come to the table in any way that they can, given their disparate business strategies and business goals, to be able to contribute to our projects to make the budgets work.
In addition, we have key research and testing partners in the national labs on this micro-grid project. Idaho National Laboratory in particular, has a full _____ hardware _____ testing laboratory there. They are basically trying to break our micro-grid in the lab so that we can fix those problems before we deploy it here. They've been fantastic to work with. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory is working on a cyber security assessment for us related to the micro-grid project. And they've been extraordinarily patient and helpful as well.
Next slide please. In any energy project, we need to work with our utilities and public utilities commissions. For this micro-grid project, we've had to execute, I think we're going on four separate agreements with our utility covering various components of the micro-grid. We knew that going in, and we have done our best to communicate early and often with our utilities about what the tribe projects – what the tribe's vision is. What are goals are, ultimately, and then the specifics around projects that we have.
And PG&E, our local utility, has been extraordinarily helpful in two key ways. One is they've been supportive of projects. They have supported funding applications, and again, for this micro-grid project in particular, we would not have the project were it not for the support of PG&E. It was actually one of the requirements of the – or, one of the criteria that was necessary for the application in the first place. So, we would have gotten nowhere without the support of our utility. But second, and this is by no means a complete list, but the second key way is that they have really helped value engineer our projects.
It is much – they have come up with many, many more cost effective ways to do what we wanted to do then we would have come up with on our own in a vacuum. And they have absolutely saved us a ton of soft costs by being responsive, immediately responsive, and working to get us the project deliverables that we need in a timeline that we had set which is very aggressive. And, the bottom line is, they're an investor owned utility. They have their own business models that they have to respect and support. And this is a leading edge project for them.
It's something that is not core to their operation, and they have absolutely supported it unequivocally, and we are profoundly grateful for that. The California Public Utilities Commission, again, timely help when we really needed it for specific components of our project. Our technology partners have been extraordinary. We've been fortunate to garner some world leaders in their subject areas on this project, and our contractor partners have been the lynchpin as well. Specifically, nothing happens in implementing energy projects without a good electrical contractor, and we have one of the best in the business we think. That we have again, partnered with over a decade.
Actually, I'm sorry, over almost two decades of facility and energy development here on the Rancheria. So, all of these entities that we have up on this slide, are strategic partners in this micro-grid project for sure, but many of them are also strategic partners in everything else we do as well. Next slide.
Jim Zoellick: And I'll just add in what Jana said there, you know, these – many of these partners here, both for the Blue Lake Rancheria tribe, as well as for the Schatz Energy Research Center, are entities that we've partnered with over the years on various projects. So, you know, the great partnership that we've had with PG&E in this micro-grid project in moving things along so quickly, is partly I think due to the fact that we've established a really strong working relationship with them as a utility. If we'd come to them just with this project out of the blue and they'd never worked with us before, we may not have had – I'm not saying they wouldn't treat us well, but we may not have had quite as much success.
They've really pushed – you know, they've really been helping us push the schedule on this and I think that's due to the great relationship that we have established with them over time.
Jana Ganion: Next slide. So this is a picture of Jim in the brown shirt there, with __________ Campbell and some lovely students from the Sandia Tribal Internship Program. So, they were out here touring the Blue Lake Rancheria, that's _____ new solar ____ behind them. And then, I'll just have Jim speak to a little bit more about some of the work that SERC has done with other tribes. Again, to kind of give people a sense of how broad the partnership components and capabilities can be.
James Zoellick: As Jana mentioned, there are a number of tribes in our region here. We've worked with either in the past or are currently working with or are currently pursuing projects with, about a half dozen local tribes as well as a local sort of tribal consortium that's the United Indian Health Services facility. And, we've done that really – close to the length of time that the Schatz Energy Research Center has been in existence. So, you know, at least over the last couple of decades. We've done capacity building and staff training, and education and outreach work with our local tribes. We've done quite a bit of planning related – energy planning related work. And this has included needs assessment, resource assessment, feasibility studies, greenhouse gas assessment and economic analyses.
We've partnered with tribes on proposals and fund development efforts. And, we've done project development and installation and, like with the micro-grid project where we're doing engineering design, system installation, system commissioning and verification, and acting as the owner's engineer. And, the slide here gives a little more of that information. I think that's –
Jana Ganion: Yeah, and I think I'll jump in here and say that one of the other ways – specific ways this has been important to us, this partnership, has been because universities are used to applying for grants. Right? They are almost an intrinsically aligned grant funding partner, because they're used to applying for them, they're used to managing them. And for tribes with limited capacity in-house for those kinds of things, it can be an excellent research to leverage into some of these opportunities. Next slide please.
And we'll finish up here. I've just got a couple more slides really quickly. These are just broader partnerships that we have developed over the last few years. There's tribal partnerships, which are very important. In addition to developing our own internal cheerleaders and stakeholders and buy-ins, we've been honored to host about 20 different tribal nations on site here at the Blue Lake Rancheria, who have come to tour our energy projects and kind of exchange information with us. And, we've just been very honored to be able to do that.
We work with our tribal liaisons obviously, at the state and federal level in various offices, governor's officers, agencies, that kind of thing. On a regional level, we talked about the Redwood Coast Energy Authority. They are doing a county-wide community choice ________ program right now as we speak. Which will mean that the Redwood Coast Energy Authority has the ability to enter into power purchase agreements with local renewable energy providers. And so we're looking forward to that era that's going to be a new one for us, and we're still working out all the details there.
But you can see, we've got a lot of different outreach based on various projects that have come up, various funding opportunities that pop up. And with complete respect to Alex's lovely processes that he had there, which all of the components are true and real, they often don't go in that particular order. And so, developing these partnerships makes the tribal government more nimble to take advantage of funding opportunities and other opportunities as they arise. And it can be that you go from articulating your vision directly to evaluation funding opportunities in the next step, and then you bring things back around to developing the leadership team or the stakeholder team.
Next slide please. And these are just a couple – this is not an exhaustive list, but a couple of columns of our – again, very fortunate to have developed these partnerships on a state and national level. And, I think that the… one of the things that I want to point out is the US Department of Energy Office of Indian Energy has really been the conduit to many – to basically all of these national lab technical assistance opportunities. So, I encourage everybody listening, if you haven't tapped into this technical assistance resource, it's very productive. And we've used it for everything from kind of spot needs that we've needed, on particular projects like safety reviews.
To, just very broad feasibility analyses and economic analyses that we had questions about. So, I encourage that. And, I think that you – many of you are already familiar with these things, I would say, just – next slide – that, in conclusion, do not be afraid to pick up the phone with people you think might have an aligned interest. It's worked really well for us. And, next slide. This is the picture of our two acre solar array and off to the left hand side there, you can see our battery storage system.
This is what it has allowed us to do. These partnerships have allowed us to put projects in the ground, that are going to be fabulously successful for the tribe for decades to come. So again, I want to reiterate on – and I'll speak for Jim here too, that if anyone on this webinar has questions, if you want details about the micro-grid project, or anything else we're dealing with, if you have questions about how we've been able to develop partnerships, leverage funding opportunities and the details there, please don't hesitate to reach out. Sharing knowledge is what we are committed to, and it's definitely, in our case, what has made all the difference, in taking the concept or idea to fruition.
So with that, we'll wrap it up and leave some time for Q and A. Thank you.
Randy Manion: Thank you Jana and Jim. And let's go to the Q and A, see what questions we have for you all. First one, what role did the county have in the micro-grid project?
Jana Ganion: So, the county has had no direct role in the micro-grid project. Except that we work with them on an emergency preparedness planning basis very closely. So, part of what we do now is, for example, we have a shelter operation planning committee that is – the primary participant is the Humboldt County Office of Emergency Services. Because they are going to be, in any emergency for us, they're going to be the point of distribution for both resources and communication from emergency responders on the federal and state level. So, we work – we have a good working relationship with the county.
We keep in touch and keep our elected officials informed of what we're doing out here, and we do go to great lengths to make sure that if there's any type of cooperative activities that the tribe and the county can work on, that we are there at the table and making our willingness to do so known.
Randy Manion: Oh, go ahead.
James Zoellick: I'll just say that the county also was involved as a partner in the broader regional energy planning work that we did. So, the work that preceded these deployment projects, and in some ways, I think led to these deployment projects, the county was a partner there. And, I think that that certainly has added value.
Doug Maccourt: And this is Doug, one thing I have to say is that not every partner is going to be directly or primarily responsible or involved in all aspects, or even the central aspect of the project. But partnerships like this, with the county, will pay dividends long into the future. I mean, just the fact that the county knows and will communicate that there is an emergency preparedness effort that Blue Lake Rancheria has thoughtfully engaged in and can provide to the surrounding community. I mean, it's not a question of when or if it will be used, it's just when. You know, we're on the Cascadian Subduction Zone and all kinds of earthquake activities that someday will bring us again another tsunami type event.
Or, whatever the event is. Flooding, and remember the counties as they are throughout the country are often responsible outside of incorporated cities for roads, for infrastructure. And building those relationships may not have a direct significant impact on the particular project, but can create a really important relationship down the road.
Randy Manion: Excellent, thanks Doug. What type of partnership agreements has Blue Lake used?
Jana Ganion: So, that's interesting. There – it's a really good question. There really isn't a particular partnership agreement that is used for projects like this. There are agreements that flow down from the California Energy Commission funding that are actual – so we have a major subcontractor agreement that details our responsibilities under the project, with the Humboldt State University Sponsored Programs Foundation. And, I think people will be interested in knowing that sometimes there is clauses in there that are specific to tribal governments, and that we work through on a legal basis.
But, most of the time, there is really, other than specific contracts for specific work, there are no real agreements in place. It's a nexus of aligned goals and it's based on kind of, each person's understanding of the integrity and the abilities of the other. With the American Red Cross, we do have an MOU that is in place. But, that is just simply to get our evacuation site on the national register, and it wasn't – it's not a very onerous thing at all, actually. So, there are specific agreements around the project, the business components of the project, but the partnership agreements really don't exist.
Doug Maccourt: And one thing – this is Doug from Indian Energy, I'll note on that, or maybe two points. One is that we really aren't talking about legal partnerships here, we're talking about… kind of the fundamental partnerships as Jana mentioned, of aligned interests. And in our experience, one of the critical components to launching those partnerships and the discussions that lead to them, are clearly defined goals and objectives from the tribe that often times, strategic energy planning can just set up beautifully. And, again, I'll put a plug in for our technical assistance, through a very simple web-based application at energy – excuse me, at doe.gov/indianenergy. But, if the tribe, for whatever reason, either has a planning effort underway or has completed one, one of the common starting points is just some type of representation from the tribal government in a very straightforward, simple context.
As Jana said at the beginning, it doesn't have to be complicated. In fact, it shouldn't be. It should be very clear and concise, much like an executive summary on a business plan that basically says, you know, here are our goals, here's what we're trying to accomplish, and we'd like to discuss with you your interests. And it helps to know something about the partners, and what those aligned interests might be. But, often times, starting the conversation, it's absolutely critical to demonstrate or represent that the tribal government has at least acknowledged these principles, and whether – it doesn't even have to be a resolution from council. It could be a letter, or at least some form that you – that whoever is starting the conversation can represent yeah, this is something that's been discussed and vetted with the tribal government.
Part of that's just to avoid surprises down the road and part of it is just simply to say that we've got our – we've done our homework and we've got our act together.
Randy Manion: Excellent, thanks Doug. And –
James Zoellick: This is Jim. I just was going to add just a couple of thoughts on that. And I think, just to point out, I think what some of the common goals are, I think for the Rancheria, and certainly Jana can chime in, but for the Rancheria and for – that align with the regional energy planning goals that we've kind of been working on over the last number of years. They include things like economic development and job creation, through the development of these local energy projects. Keeping energy dollars circulating in the local economy, which again, is a economic development and a job creation objective. The environmental benefits associated with energy efficiency and clean and renewable energy certainly in terms of addressing climate change, which is something that, here in California is a very – is high on the state's and municipal strategic plans and end goals.
And then, energy security and reliability. Certainly Jana mentioned the remoteness of our area here in Humboldt County and sort of the tenuous connection we have to the rest of our energy infrastructure. And I think that's probably something that's not uncommon for tribes throughout the country, of being in rural or more remote locations. So, that's just some examples I think of places that are sort of common goals, that the tribes might find with regional partners.
Randy Manion: Thanks Jim. Jana, which battery storage technology are you using?
Jana Ganion: We're using the Tesla Power Pack, which was delivered to us through very windy roads directly from the Gigafactory. [Laughs]. So, it's a wonderful new technology and obviously, we are thrilled to be kind of at the forefront of these site implementations of this new technology. And, our system, we hope that the micro-grid system, including the Tesla battery will be online by the end of the year. We're on track to do that, barring any bumps that we can't see from here, we will be online and so we'll know more about how these technologies are performing by the first part of 2017 for sure.
James Zoellick: And part of the design of the project through the California Energy Commission ____ grant, is to – we'll be operating the micro-grid system for about a year, still under the grant, collection data. We've outfitted the system with energy meters and other transducers so we can monitor the performance of the system. And then the Schatz Energy Research Center and actually some of our graduate students will be working on evaluating the performance of the system, estimating the benefits associated with the system, both to the tribe, so economic benefits, greenhouse gas emission benefits to the tribe, but also looking at tribes – at benefits to the larger grid and larger community.
Randy Manion: Excellent. I'm going to ask you a question, you don't have to answer it right away. I'm going to go to see if there's any raised hands, but I'll come back to it before we conclude. If you had to boil all this down to three steps, think about what those three steps would be to establishing a high quality partnership. And let's just say it's going to be around clean energy. And then I'll come back to you for an answer on that.
Let's see if there's any raised hands with the attendees, and… we'll un-mute those. There is. Rick Contraris, I'm going to unmute you, you can ask your question now, Rick.
Rick Contraris: I just wanted to go up and see the project in Blue Lake. We're here at Middleton Rancheria, just north of Calistoga, and we're venturing into requesting of funding so that we can do some energy option analysis for – on our Rancheria here. I'm the tribal administrator.
Jana Ganion: Fantastic. You're neighbors. You're our neighbors. Relatively speaking.
Rick Contraris: Yeah.
Jana Ganion: So, any time, Rick, you would like to come up. We have a hotel on site. My e-mail is on the slides, but call me, e-mail me and we'll set it up.
Rick Contraris: I will do that Jana, thank you very much.
James Zoellick: Rick, this goes to your question as well as anyone else who's listening that might be interested in doing the same thing. Please – it dovetails with one of the comments that Jana made, and that is reaching out to people to just get a sense of who's done it before and what kind of pathways they've gone down. That's really the primary reason we exist as a resource to Indian country, to help build these – both academic partnerships, but industry partnerships, because they've been so fruitful in addressing really one central issue. And that is that nobody achieves success alone out there, and everybody has to start somewhere. So, it's okay even if you don't know how to even ask the question, but you have a sense of, you know, we'd like to be more energy independent.
Or, we'd like to reduce our utility costs or we've been thinking about, you know, our neighbors that are putting up solar panels or have a biodigester. It just starts with a simple question and that's what we're here for.
Randy Manion: All right, let me see if there's raised hands and then we'll go back to the… okay, there is. Ed Zapell, you have your hand raised. But it doesn't look like you have your audio pin in the system, so if you want to quickly put your audio pin in, I'll come back to you, see if you have your hand still raised. No other raised hands, let's go back to the written questions for – well, there is. James Williams, you have your hand raised? Let me unmute you and you can ask your question. Go ahead, Jim.
James Williams: I was just going to ask Miss Jana about how long her project took, like from the initial start up to when they've actually started producing some energy.
Jana Ganion: Yeah, so we started, we were made aware of the funding opportunity. I'm looking at Jim here so he can help me. [Laughs]. With the dates, but it was the fall of 2014, I think. I think it was fall of 2014 when the notice of opportunity dropped, and then that fall was a busy time for us, to pull together the application. And, so _____. Probably it's going to be conservatively two and a half years until some – from initial idea and the of course all important funding opportunity to steady state project production. Does that make sense?
Like, so we feel like there's going to be a couple of months where we're working the ______ out of the system, we're making – it's all going to be tied together by a Siemens _________ Management System, which is incredibly sophisticated. And, we'll need to be sort of commissioned over time with Siemens' help, and they've been an extraordinary partner. So, about two and a half years.
James Williams: All right, thank you.
Jana Ganion: Mm-hmm.
Randy Manion: All right, just a few more questions. Jana, what are some of the key challenges you've encountered and how did you overcome them?
Jana Ganion: That's always a great question. [Laughs]. The – you know, the main challenge is for tribal governments to develop capacity, which is why we're here talking about partnerships today. And, it's one of the things that personally I think as stakeholders in Indian country focus on energy and economic development, you need to push for programs and support that create meaningful capacity for energy, economic development in tribal offices everywhere. In the same way that the EPA GAP program, though not perfect, has made a significant difference in the environmental management that tribes are able to do, we would like to see that same type of capacity building for every tribe in terms of energy and economic development.
Because, we feel that, and we know that number one, there's a lot of saving energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction that can happen through just having one point person wake up, throw their feet over the edge of the bed every day and go to work on these things. And, the second reason is that these programs, like from Blue Lake Rancheria's perspective, we started with energy efficiency because that was the lowest hanging fruit, plus it creates energy savings, real dollars that the tribe generously put back into funding capacity. And, funding follow-on projects that, once we reduced our energy consumptions to about as low as we could, then we started implementing renewable energy assets. But, you can do that, and you can help soften that investment by – in stages. And I would say that the capacity is one of the biggest challenges, but that's one of the ways in which we solved it.
Funding is always a challenge, and I think there's a lot of really great momentum nationally on recognizing the economic benefits of supporting tribes and working with tribes so that they can develop these clean and renewable and zero emission energy sources. I don't think it's a statistic that even though tribes have two percent of the land that they can generate five percent of the energy footprint. I don't think that quite communicates the opportunities in Indian country around renewable energy. Indian country has some of the best renewable energy resources on the globe. And we can develop those.
And, because tribes are often very nimble and very aggressive once they set their mind to it, we can do it faster. [Laughs]. And cleaner, and more efficiently and more responsibly, perhaps, than others. I really believe that to be true. We've seen it happen here, so I know it to be true in certain circumstances. And so, funding for renewable energy is always a challenge, but there are benefits to it for tribal communities, but for the country as a whole and we need to keep pushing for that.
Alex did a great job of outlining some resources. I think we all probably have our Excel list of funding opportunities, and one of the things to be – to do, is to really be disciplined about tracking all those funding opportunities. Making sure you understand when they come up on a rotating basis every year, investigating the details around like, the USDA Rural Utility Service, grant and loan programs out there. And other programs that maybe tribes haven't typically taken full advantage of but could. And specifically tribal governments, right, where tribal governments want to own their own assets and manage them long term.
So, funding is always an issue, but we've solved that by just being – doing our homework and really keeping a careful eye on those opportunities. And, it's – I would say in answer to Randy's question about what are the three things you need to do to develop the partnerships, first, find partners ideally that are aligned with your tribe's – with the tribe's goals and values. That are smart and have integrity, and that you could really see working with long term. Then, the tribe needs to invest in a point person to develop and maintain those partnerships. Because we all know that partnerships don't happen in – through phone calls.
They have to be sustained and maintained over time. And having at least a half of a person [laughs] dedicated to doing that, is going to make a world of difference. Because, number three, the third way that you develop partnerships is to keep your eye on where the tribal capacity, the partners and the funding opportunities all converge. And, being nimble and being able to take advantage of some of these energy and economic development opportunities and funding opportunities by just being ready. These opportunities are going to pop up before you're prepared for them.
It's always the case, but if you have the outreach done with your utilities, with your ______ university, with all of the stakeholders, some of which – some examples of which we've outlined today, you're going to be ready and you're going to be able to move nimbly and quickly to take advantage and implement those opportunities. And so those would be my three steps. Jim, do you have three steps? [Laughs].
James Zoellick: I do, but they're – and you pretty much covered them. I said that the first was determining – for the tribe to determine their goals and objectives, and you – I think you assume that they would already have done that. Which would be important. And then, I think that the – finding the partners and part of it, I think, is just reaching out. You certainly might have some sense of who good partners are, if there's a local university and there are programs that they have, an energy related program or an environmental related program, or an economic development related program. Something that seems to fit with the type of things that you're trying to do.
But I think ultimately you really, you just need to take the plunge and reach out and start to investigate and see who's out there and who might have an interest to partner. And it's partly about finding people that you can work with. People that you like, people that you trust, and that really takes time as Jana's saying. It is – it has to be a long term effort, it's not going to happen like she said with one phone call. And then, my third one was really just get to work.
You know, find, as Jana said, there are going to be opportunities that come up, and it may not be the perfect timing and you may not feel completely prepared. But, really what you have to do is take the plunge at some point, and I think in some places, you might wanna, if you're just getting started and just developing partnerships, look for an opportunity that's not too big and isn't too big of a commitment and try it. And, see how it works out. You know, maybe it's a very small project where you're just looking at the possibility to upgrade your lighting, or yeah, doing planning. Something that you know, maybe it's very low cost but it gives you a chance to start to develop a relationship.
Look at a particular opportunity and see where that goes and see where that takes you. And if you start building those relationships, if the various partners in that relationship find value in that relationship, you're all going to work to further it and to look for opportunities that benefits the overall partnership.
Randy Manion: Excellent Jim, and Doug? Anything –
Doug Maccourt: Well, yes, I have to say, I completely agree with Jana and Jim here, and I think their words of wisdom are very complimentary. And, I'll – so I probably won't say anything new, but maybe slightly differently worded. And that is, you know, I guess I'd like to use the analogy of a business plan. When, whether it's a tribe, whether it's a small business, a large business, anyone who wants to engage some other party in getting them interested about an effort that your tribe wants to engage in, it requires a couple of very basic things. And a business plan model is not a bad way to think about it.
The executive summary of which should certainly be no more than two pages, and awfully – often times, best if it's just kept to a – you could do it in a PowerPoint format, you could do it in a letter. But, keep it simple. And when – now, we do a lot of work in the finance world to try to bring capital to _____ Indian country for tribal energy development. And, there are some really consistent golden rules out there. When investors, lenders, potential partners are looking at what the tribe has approached them with in terms of a potential partnership.
And they ask certain questions all the time, and those questions include, do they understand what they're trying to accomplish? And that goes to both Jana and Jim's comments about not only make it clear and concise, but scale it correctly. So, the first thing is do you have a clear statement of goals? The second thing that often times potential partners look at is the team that is proposing whatever it is you're proposing is, can they execute what they're suggesting? And what that goes to is the capacity issues that Jana talked about, as well as the – you know, capacity is a cousin of experience.
And, if tribes listening or people that work with tribes on this call, this webinar, know that they need to build that capacity, that is a huge component of what the Office of Indian Energy is trying to do with its programs out there. And that can also be a perfectly valid subject for seeking technical assistance through our office. It can be done in a variety of ways. But, again, so the first thing is are the goals clearly stated, two, can that team execute, and third, back to Jim's point, is it scaled right. Is it scoped right.
Often times, the most successful tribes are not – in the tribal energy area are not trying to get out and solve all the problems at once. And as we've learned over a couple of decades or working with tribes on projects, the smaller projects often, not only are a lot easier to accomplish because they don't cost as much, but they aren't as risky. And they aren't as likely, therefore, to fail in the prep stages as well as the execution stages. So, my advice would be – I thought Jana and Jim laid it out beautifully, but think about the partnership as a real – as if you wanted to do business with somebody and they wanted to do business with you. And both parties were looking at this as a serious endeavor, but one in which you share common objectives.
Again, make your goals clear and concise, well-defined. Two, show them that the team can execute it, and three, make sure it's not scoped too big.
Jana Ganion: Yeah, and I'll – just one quick final comment, 'cause I know we're way over and we appreciate the people who are still hanging in there with us. [Laughs]. We could talk about this all day, but you know, one of the ways – one of the specific examples of what Doug was just saying is the – and this is one of the ways where you could think about developing partnerships that is really easy to do, that when the tribe has a specific funding opportunity that it's going for, think about how to bring in people that you would want to be partners with. So, for example, in Humboldt County, well, the tribe had a funding opportunity for communications, emergency communications equipment. And we thought, since Humboldt County, as I mentioned before, is the conduit for emergency preparedness resources, that we would reach out to them and see if we could write them into the grant for any equipment that they might need. So the conversation went something like, hello this is Jana from Blue Lake Rancheria. We have a funding opportunity, we'd like to see if you have any communications equipment needs that we could see about getting funded for you.
And they said, "oh, well we just did a strategic communications plan, county-wide" and they gave details. I said, "oh, okay, well I wasn't aware of that, so how many tribes were involved and maybe we could work with that group? And they said, "oh, well, no tribes were involved." [Laughs]. And I can say this, because the people that were part of that conversation are no longer in county leadership, but it was a real wake up call that, A, we needed to do outreach, but B, that a really easy way to do it is to take those funding opportunities and think about, okay, well, if a neighboring municipality also needs whatever it is that's available under this funding opportunity, maybe we outreach to them and see if we can provide them some funding. It's always nice to come with a gift.
In your first conversation. So, that's one way to do it too, just as an example.
Doug Maccourt: And Jana, I love that conversation in closing because you know, you – every funding announcement is different and you have to follow the specific guidelines and try the best to give us exactly what we're asking for. But, a very consistent theme in virtually all our funding announcements, in the application process, is to have well defined deliverables, milestones and metrics. And, those often can and in many cases, should be leveraging various pieces of the project through the development of partnerships or through existing partnerships. And that can mean leveraging cost, it can mean leveraging some expertise, it could simply just be that you know, there's a partner at a local county state or federal level that has a common goal. And that it raises the visibility and the potential success of the project.
But, I just wanted to make that point that that approach is a consistent them through the merit review that we go through in deciding which applications succeed and which ones don't in our funding announcements. And that leveraging of what it takes to get the project done in specific terms of deliverables, milestones and metrics, is all about – or, at least a significant piece of that sometimes can be how partnerships can leverage pieces of the project, so.
Randy Manion: Excellent, and I want to thank Doug, Alex, Jana and Jim for terrific presentations and great discussion. Thank our audience also. We're planning our 2017 Tribal Webinar series, so if you have a webinar topic idea, send it to me. If you have a webinar speaker, send that person to me as well, and we look forward to seeing you next month. Thanks everyone. Bye.
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