DOE Awards $3M to Support Clean Energy Transition at Tribal Colleges

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The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is allocating $3 million to help two tribal college campuses shift to clean energy.

The funding will assist Blackfeet Community College in Montana and Turtle Mountain Community College in North Dakota in lowering their operating expenses and building a solid foundation for clean energy education. These colleges will then serve as examples for others to follow in adopting clean energy practices, according to a DOE press release.

Blackfeet Community College will set up a 136-kW ground-mounted solar photovoltaic system on their campus. A photovoltaic (PV) system, also known as a solar power system, is an electric power system that generates electricity from sunlight using photovoltaic cells. This addition, along with previous solar installations, will make the entire 17-building campus fully powered by renewable energy. The project will also offer hands-on training to three students and reinvest energy savings into the college for the benefit of students and the community.

Turtle Mountain Community College will install a 120-kW solar PV system and solar air heating for their Career and Technical Education (CTE) facility. The new installations are expected to lower the CTE’s electricity costs by over 50 percent and save the school more than $1 million. The project will also include an educational curriculum that focuses on high-paying career opportunities for participants.

These cost-sharing projects, valued at nearly $3.4 million, will reduce energy expenses by over $1.6 million for the colleges and establish a platform for a culturally relevant clean energy curriculum.

The funding is part of the Biden administration’s broader initiatives aimed at lowering energy costs for vulnerable communities and bolstering energy security and resilience on college campuses.

“Investing in our Native youth is crucial to securing America’s clean energy future,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Jennifer M. Granholm in the release. “The projects selected today will help reduce energy costs and train the workforce of the future, while contributing to the Biden-Harris Administration’s broader goal of achieving a net-zero carbon economy by 2050.”