Federal grants will benefit 7 tribal communities

Over $5 million in grant funding has been awarded to seven Alaska Native communities for projects to reduce energy costs and increase energy security and resiliency, Department of Energy officials said on Tuesday, July 13.

The goal is powering homes and communities, making buildings more energy efficient and installing microgrids for essential services and resiliency, critical elements to reaching the Biden administration’s goal of net-zero carbon emissions by 2050, Energy Department officials said.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, joined Secretary of Energy Jennifer Granholm in announcing the funding from the Energy Department’s Office of Indian Energy, in support of the grants to Alaska Native and six other American Indian tribal entities. Murkowski recalled being approached at a town hall meeting in Aniak by a foster mom with a fuel oil receipt. “She was paying $10 a gallon for her home heating fuel and she had an infant foster baby,” Murkowski said. The woman told her that this week she was choosing to keep her house warm and next week she would buy formula. “These are not choices that families should have to make,” Murkowski said.

“Our native communities should be entrusted to develop their own lands and resources,” said Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska. “This funding will go a long way toward increasing energy efficiency, harnessing natural resources, reducing long-term energy costs, and improving air quality.”

The grants include:

  • Akiachak Native Community: $123,220 to install energy-efficient retrofits, including furnaces in the laundry building, as well as an LED lighting upgrade and installation of setback thermostats, in five essential multi-use buildings in the Akiachak Village.
  • Kipnuk Light Plant, a tribally owned utility of the Native Village of Kipnuk:$855,978 to purchase, install and integrate a battery energy storage system into its standalone community wind diesel grid which will displace over 34,000 gallons of diesel fuel. 
  • Metlakatla Indian Community: $1,031,110 to complete the electrical intertie between its islanded community and the mainland community of Ketchikan.
  • Native Village of Diomede: $222,848 to install energy efficiency measures in the new village store in Alaska’s most remote community, on an island in the Bering Straits.
  • Native Village of Noatak and Northwest Arctic Borough: $1,997,265 to deploy a high-penetration solar PV and battery energy storage hybrid system to integrate with the village’s diesel electric grid, estimated to save community more than $178,000 each year.
  • Village of Aniak: $167,948 to install energy retrofits on four essential multi-use buildings and the village’s Community Center.
  • Village of Chefornak:$854,964 and in cooperation with its community utility Naterkag Light Plant purchase, install, and integrate a battery storage system into its standalone community wind diesel grid.