New Mexico’s Jemez Pueblo tribe is working a deal to use their land for solar energy production. They will be the first Native American tribe to use solar energy as a way to make revenue.
The 3,000 members of the tribe are working to harness the energy from their 30-acre site. They plan on setting up over 14,000 solar panels.
A plan is now in the works to sell electricity to outsiders from their four-megawatt plant. The completed plant would be able to power about 600 homes.
The project will cost about $22 million which will be financed through government grants, loans and tax credits. If the plans come together the tribe could see $25 million in revenue over the next 25 years.
The Jemez Pueblo tribe is approaching the solar energy plan after the federal government nixed their hopes of building a casino.
The Denver Post reports: “Not every tribe is a gaming tribe, but every tribe is an energy tribe,” said Roger Fragua, a Denver-based consultant who works with the Council of Energy Resource Tribes.
This venture could signal a new source of revenue for tribes in the United States. Native peoples are among the poorest groups in the nation.
With tribal lands compassing of more than 55 million acres throughout the nation the potential for solar energy is great.
“We know other tribes are interested in doing the very same thing, and they’re following our project to see what kind of success we have,” said Greg Kaufman, an environmental scientist who works with the pueblo.