applauds granting of funding to seven tribes in Alaska to increase energy resilience and reduce energy costs
U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined with U.S. Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE) Jennifer Granholm in announcing funding from the DOE Office of Indian Energy (OIE) to help thirteen Native American communities and Alaska Natives to deploy energy technology. . This includes $ 5,269,376 which will be divided among seven tribes in Alaska. The funding will help maximize the deployment and implementation of energy technology, including projects to lower the cost of energy, make buildings more efficient and ensure greater energy resilience.
For the audio of the press conference, Click here.
“It’s good to be able to focus on the good things that may come from the Office of Indian Energy as it strives to facilitate and meet the needs of not only Alaskan natives but Indians as well. America and the indigenous peoples of the country ” said Senator Murkowski. “We are facing very high energy costs in much of the state. In some of our small communities, rural residents may face electricity prices that are about 800 percent higher than the national average. So when you think about what it means when you pay so much just to stay warm, it’s less than you have available to feed your family. I never forget the conversation I had with a foster mom who approached me at a town hall in Aniak with a receipt for 5 gallons of home heating oil totaling $ 50. She was paying ten dollars a gallon to heat her house, and she had a foster baby and she said, “This week I choose to keep my house warm. Next week, I buy formula milk. These are not choices families should have to make. And sadly, we know these stories are being heard in far too many of our communities and in far too many of our Indigenous communities. The opportunities offered by these grants will help translate into resilience, reducing costs and improving the lives of our families.
“The Department of Energy is committed to working with Native American and Native Alaskan communities to strengthen energy infrastructure on tribal lands.” said Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. “These selections, the Office of Indian Energy’s firsts this year, underscore the Biden administration’s commitment to ensuring that communities disproportionately affected by climate change benefit directly from clean energy investments.”
Keolani (Keo) Booth, member of the Metlakatla Tribe (expected to receive funding as part of this announcement), Tribal Council Advisor, Chairman of the Tribe Planning Committee as well as Chairman of the Board of Metlakatla Power & Light (MP&L), also shared remarks.
“I want to start by thanking Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm and Senator Murkowski for your efforts and ideas on prioritizing your project.” Keolani Booth said. “This announcement from Secretary Granholm and our friends at DOE, and our longtime and beloved Senator Lisa Murkowski, is a validation of our efforts to reinvent this interconnection. The Intertie project is all about connection – connecting to the power grid, connecting to our neighbor Ketchikan, as well as connecting to the global community via high speed broadband in the future. This is about economic development in our community and throughout Southeast Alaska. While we cherish our independence and sovereignty as an Indigenous community, we also recognize that we are all stronger together when we are interconnected. Resilience, as you said Ms Murkowski, is having multiple options to power our communities and this project opens up many new options for renewable energy, both for Metlakatla, Ketchikan and the South East region of L ‘Alaska. Once again, I would like to thank the federal government for its investment in our community. We look forward to completing this project quickly and providing reliable renewable energy at a reasonable price in the long term to all of our consumers. “
Senator Murkowski has worked diligently to improve and develop the OIE. During her tenure as chair of the Senate Energy Committee, she pushed forward bipartite legislation to re-authorize and improve the OIE. During her tenure as Chair of the Interior and Environment Credit Subcommittee, she helped secure $ 22 million, an increase of $ 6 million, for the OIE under of the year-end 2021 budget envelope. And, in the 2020 Energy Law that was enacted last year, Senator Murkowski helped broaden the definition of tribal lands to include any census track where the majority of residents are Alaska Natives or registered members of a federally recognized Indian tribe or village.
Alaska Communities Selected to Receive Funding:
- The village of Aniak (Aniak, AK): $ 167,948 to install energy upgrades in four essential mixed-use buildings and the village community center.
- The village of Chefornak (Chefornak, AK): $ 854,964 to help purchase, install and integrate a battery storage system into its community wind diesel stand-alone grid.
- The Kipnuk Light Plant, a utility belonging to a tribe in the indigenous village of Kipnuk (Kipnuk, AK): $ 855,978 to purchase, install and integrate a battery-based energy storage system into its community-based off-grid wind diesel grid. This improvement will displace more than 34,000 gallons of diesel fuel.
- The Indian community of Metlakatla (Annette Island reserve, AK): $ 1,031,110 to complete the electrical interconnection between its island community and the mainland community of Ketchikan, Alaska.
- The birthplace of Diomedes (Diomede, AK): $ 222,848 to install energy efficiency measures in the new Village store.
- The indigenous community of Akiachak (Akiachak, AK): $ 123,220 to install energy efficient retrofits and LED lighting upgrade. The funding will also support the installation of backup thermostats in five essential mixed-use buildings in the village of Akiachak.
- The Indigenous Village of Noatak and the Northwest Arctic Borough (Kotzebue, AK): $ 1,997,265 to install a high penetration photovoltaic hybrid system and battery energy storage to be integrated into the village’s diesel electricity grid. This improvement is expected to save the community over $ 178,000 each year.