Washington, DC – U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) joined U.S. Secretary of the Department of Energy (DOE), Jennifer Granholm, to announce funding from the DOE Office of Indian Energy (OIE) to support thirteen American Indian and Alaska Native communities to deploy energy technology. This includes $5,269,376 which will be distributed among seven tribes in Alaska. The funding will help maximize deployment and implementation of energy technology, including projects to lower the cost of energy, make buildings more efficient, and ensure greater energy resilience.
For audio of the press conference, click here.
“It’s good to be able to focus on good things that can come from the Office of Indian Energy as they work to facilitate and advance the needs of not only Alaska Natives, but American Indian and Indigenous peoples around the country,” said Senator Murkowski. “We face very high energy costs throughout much of the state. In some of our small communities, rural residents can face electricity rates that are about 800 percent higher than the national average. So when you think about what this means when you are paying that much just to stay warm, that is less that you have available to feed your family. I never forget the conversation that I had with a foster mom who approached me at town hall meeting in Aniak with a receipt for 5 gallons of home heating fuel totaling 50 dollars. She was paying ten dollars a gallon for her home heating fuel, and she had an infant foster baby and she said ‘this week I’m choosing to keep my house warm. Next week I’m buying formula.’ These are not choices that families should have to make. And unfortunately, we know that those stories are heard in far too many of our communities and in far too many of our Native communities. The opportunities with these grants will help translate to the resiliency, to reducing the cost, and to making life better for our families.”
“The Department of Energy is committed to working with American Indian and Alaska Native communities to strengthen energy infrastructure on Tribal lands,” said Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm. “These selections, the first from the Office of Indian Energy this year, underscore the Biden Administration’s commitment to ensuring that communities disproportionately affected by climate change directly benefit from clean energy investments.”
Keolani (Keo) Booth, a member of the Metlakatla Tribe (slated to receive funding through this announcement), Councilman on the Tribal Council, Chair of the Tribes Planning Committee as well as Board Chairman of the Metlakatla Power & Light (MP&L), also shared remarks.
“I want to start by thanking Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm and Senator Murkowski for your efforts and insight on prioritizing your project,” said Keolani Booth. “This announcement by Secretary Granholm and our friends at DOE, and our longtime and beloved Senator Lisa Murkowski, is a validation of our efforts directed at reimagining this intertie. Intertie project is all about connection—connection to the electric grid, connection to our neighbor Ketchikan, as well as connection to the global community through high speed broadband in the future. It is about economic development in our community and throughout all of Southeast Alaska. While we cherish our independence and sovereignty as a Native community, we also recognize that we are all stronger together when we are interconnected. Resiliency, as you stated Ms. Murkowski, is all about having multiple options for powering our communities and this project opens up many news options for renewable energy, to both Metlakatla, Ketchikan, and the Southeast Alaska region. Again, I want to thank the federal government for its investment into our community. We look forward to expeditiously executing on this project and providing dependable, renewable power at a long-term reasonable price for all of our consumers.”
Senator Murkowski has worked diligently to enhance and develop the OIE. During her time as Chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, she advanced bipartisan legislation to reauthorize and improve the OIE. During her tenure as Chairman of the Interior-Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, she helped secure $22 million dollars—a $6 million increase in funding—for OIE within the FY2021 year-end appropriations package. And, in the Energy Act of 2020 which was signed into law last year, Senator Murkowski helped expand the definition of tribal lands to include any census track where the majority of residents are Alaska Natives or enrolled 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 retrofits on four essential multi-use buildings and the Village’s Community Center.
The Village of Chefornak (Chefornak, AK): $854,964 to help purchase, install, and integrate a battery storage system into its standalone community wind diesel grid.
The Kipnuk Light Plant, a tribally owned utility of the Native Village of Kipnuk (Kipnuk, AK): $855,978 to purchase, install, and integrate a battery energy storage system into its standalone community wind diesel grid. This improvement will displace over 34,000 gallons of diesel fuel.
The Metlakatla Indian Community (Annette Island Reserve, AK): $1,031,110 to complete the electrical intertie between its islanded community and the mainland community of Ketchikan, Alaska.
The Native Village of Diomede (Diomede, AK): $222,848 to install energy efficiency measures in the new store in the Village.
The Akiachak Native Community (Akiachak, AK): $123,220 to install energy-efficient retrofits and an LED lighting upgrade. The funding will also support the installation of setback thermostats, in five essential multi-use buildings in the Akiachak Village.
The Native Village of Noatak and the Northwest Arctic Borough (Kotzebue, AK): $1,997,265 to install a high-penetration solar PV and battery energy storage hybrid system to integrate with the Village’s diesel electric grid. This improvement is estimated to save the community more than $178,000 each year.