DOE to help tribes advance renewable energy projects

The U.S. Department of Energy announced the third round of Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START) Renewable Energy Project Development Assistance, which provides federally recognized tribal governments and other tribal entities with on-the-ground support to accelerate clean energy project deployment.

Through the START Program, the DOE Office of Indian Energy and Energy Department National Laboratory experts provide technical assistance for tribal clean energy development by supporting community- and commercial-scale renewable energy projects across the country. Since its launch in December 2011, the START Program has helped 21 tribal communities advance their clean energy technology and infrastructure projects — from solar and wind to biofuels and energy efficiency.

"Today’s announcement signals the Department’s ongoing commitment to providing Native American Tribes with the tools and opportunity to engage in a dynamic sector of our economy, and foster energy self-sufficiency and sustainability,” said Deputy Energy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall. “We will continue to work with tribal leaders to advance clean energy solutions and identify climate resiliency strategies to prepare for and adapt to the impacts of climate change on their land, economy, and natural resources.”

START will assist tribal project team and tribal legal/finance specialists with reaching a late-stage development decision point or milestone to further a project toward development. Eligible applicants for this opportunity include Indian Tribes, Alaska Native regional corporations, and formally organized tribal energy resource development organizations. Applicants designated as White House Climate Action Champions will also benefit from the assistance of the START Program and be given preferential consideration.

“The program was very flexible, providing expertise in different areas as project needs changed, including the site location,” said James Jensen, Project Manager for Southern Ute Alternative Energy, LLC, which received START assistance in 2013 to help advance the development of its $3 million, 1-megawatt solar photovoltaic project.

Applications are due to the Energy Department Office of Indian Energy by May 1, 2015. Up to five projects will be selected by late June 2015. Technical assistance will be provided from July 2015 through August 2016.

In addition to this opportunity, the Energy Department launched the third round of the Alaska START Program in December to assist Alaska Native villages and federally recognized Alaska Native governments with accelerating clean energy projects. Applications are currently being reviewed and selected projects will be announced in April.

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