Monday, May 14, 2012

Navajo Tribe Gets Ready for Solar Array

This flat, dusty stretch of prairie in central New Mexico is where the leaders of a remote, sparsely populated Native American community envision a sea of solar panels capable of producing enough electricity for more than 10,000 homes miles away from the reservation.
Once built, the solar plant in To’Hajiilee will
be the largest on tribal land in the U.S. Here,
SunPower Corp. solar panels loom at the office
of Consolidated Solar Technologies in

The To’Hajiilee solar project is one of 19 energy projects that will share in $6.5 million recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to spur renewable-energy development on tribal lands. About two-thirds of the money is earmarked for tribes in the West, and most of that will be going toward getting projects in New Mexico and Arizona off the ground.

Over the last decade, $36 million has been doled out for nearly 160 projects from Alaska to Maine as part of the DOE’s Tribal Energy Program. This year’s grants come as Congress considers new measures aimed at reducing the bureaucratic hurdles tribes face in developing their resources and as the Obama administration looks for ways to speed up the leasing of land for clean-energy projects.

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