Powering Forward: Clean energy empowers Native American tribes seeking self-sustainability

By John Blomster, Comstock’s Magazine

Tribal sovereignty is an age-old Native American value that today is becoming synonymous with energy independence. With help from JLM Energy in Rocklin, the Bear River Band of Rohnerville Rancheria tribe is on the leading edge of the movement in California.

This summer, the tribe and JLM Energy are partnering to install the first integrated renewable energy system of its kind in California, comprising wind, solar and energy storage power — called a microgrid — on the Rohnerville Rancheria reservation in Humboldt County just south of Eureka. In addition to offsetting the utility bill, the microgrid will allow the tribe to be more independent, provide training and jobs for its residents, and reduce its carbon footprint, all of which reflect tribal values. The small but significant endeavor is setting a new precedent for future projects as more California tribes look to follow suit.

The tribe first began working with the company to install a battery storage system — purchasing power at times when demand and costs are lower (say at 2 a.m. instead of 2 p.m.), and charging batteries to provide power during peak hours when demand spikes and the cost goes up. Construction on the microgrid began this month and will include a 100-kilowatt solar panel power system, 20 wind turbines and 30 kilowatts of microgrid electricity. The wind and solar systems power batteries that will supplant electricity needs when it costs the most with what is already generated and stored.

Read full article in Comstock’s Magazine

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