DOE funding supports biomass projects on tribal land

By Erin Voegele | November 22, 2013

The U.S. Department of Energy recently awarded funding to support the development of two biomass thermal projects in the Midwest. The awards were made as part of a $7 million round of funding to nine tribal clean energy projects. The award are designed to help American Indian and Alaska Native tribes deploy clean energy projects, with the goal of saving these communities money, enhancing their energy security and creating new job and business opportunities.

Menominee tribal Enterprises in Neopit, Wis., will use the funding to install a biomass-fired combined-heat-and-power (CHP) system. The new subsystem will power the tribe’s sawmill and lumber drying operation, helping to reduce the use of fuel oil by more than 80 percent annually.

The White Earth Reservation Tribal Council in White Earth, Minn., will use the funding to install a wood biomass-fueled boiler to heat a tribal facility. The system will replace more than 60 percent of the fuel oil and propane currently used to heat the facility.

A recent study by the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory determined that American Indian land comprises only 2 percent in the U.S., but contains approximately 5 percent of all the nation’s renewable energy resources.

“American Indian and Alaska Native tribes host a wide range of untapped energy resources that can help build a sustainable energy future for their local communities,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said. “Responsible development of these clean energy resources will help cut energy waste and fight the harmful effects of carbon pollution – strengthening energy security of Tribal nations throughout the country.”