California tribe uses U.S. grant to study small hydro

The Hoopa Valley Tribe of northern California is studying development of small hydro plants that would channel water from Trinity River tributaries to meet local electricity demand and for possible sale to energy providers.

The tribe will use a $103,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy for a feasibility study of the project, which would feature low-head facilities ranging from 100 kW to 5 MW. The tribe is to provide an additional $17,000 for the study.

The government grant was included in $1.5 million made available to 11 Indian tribes to assess the potential for developing renewable energy technologies on tribal lands. Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman, who announced the awards Feb. 28, said renewable energy projects encourage self-sufficiency, reduce electricity costs on tribal lands, and create jobs.

DOE’s Tribal Energy Program, managed by the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, made the awards. The government program provides financial and technical assistance to tribes for feasibility studies and shares the cost of implementing sustainable renewable energy installations on tribal lands.

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 included language encouraging Indian tribes to develop energy resources, including hydro, on millions of acres of tribal lands.

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