Shoshone Tribe of the Wind River Reservation - 2006 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Shoshone Tribe of the Wind River Reservation
Location: Fort Washakie, WY
Project Title: Tribal Wind Assessment Proposal Eastern Shoshone Tribe of the Wind River Reservation
Type of Application: Feasibility
DOE Grant Number: DE-FG36-06GO16026
Project Amounts:
DOE: $190,405
Awardee: $33,750
Total: $224,155
Project Status: See project status
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: May 2006
End: November 2007

Summary

The tribe will determine the feasibility of developing a commercial wind facility on the reservation to maximize the economic benefits and create employment for tribal members. If developed, wind energy could power tribal operations and generate revenue through electricity export. The goal of the project is to provide 50 meter wind monitoring and to engage in pre-project planning activities designed to provide a preliminary evaluation of the technical, economic, social and environmental feasibility of developing a sustainable, integrated wind energy plan for the Eastern Shoshone Tribe. The study will include site selection, wind resource monitoring and assessment, and preliminary environmental review, economic modeling, interconnection, permitting, market and finance identification, to serve on reservation electric loads and explore the export potential of wind energy via private and federal markets.

Project Description

The Eastern Shoshone Tribe will conduct the necessary monitoring and pre-project planning on the potential development for a wind energy facility for both Tribal use and export sales. The Wind River Reservation has wind potential ranging from wind class 4-6 on reservation lands and has an excellent opportunity to partner with the Intertribal Council On Utility Policy (COUP), an Intertribal consortium currently conducting pre-development activities of a number of Indian reservations in North and South Dakota, and Nebraska; investigating policy and economic issues relative on reservation use of wind power; and exploring the sales of wind energy off reservation to private and federal agencies via the transmission system operated by WAPA.

Through the NREL WPA anemometer loan program, twenty meter data has been collected on the Wind River reservation (Stagner Ridge/Boysen Peak). The data collected indicated a lower than expected resource (Jimenez letter to Lawson, February 26, 2003). An investigation into the actual siting conditions revealed that the anemometer was "poorly exposed" and that there were "serious icing problems" (due to elevations of 7,000 to 8,000 feet) which likely lowered the recording of the actual wind speeds. (Wade letter report to Jimenez, November 10, 2003). Consultant John Wade recommended:

"...another location along Stagner Ridge that will better characterize the winds on the ridge. However, I would urge consideration of the lower elevation Big Horn Flat area where there may be a wind resource just as strong, but with nowhere the problems with ice or low air density of the Stagner Ridge area. Big Horn Flat has a wind resource projected to be marginal by the Wind Atlas and I believe that to be wrong because the predominant direction of the wind is northwest and this area is well exposed to northwest winds and based (on) anecdotal evidence is even stronger than Stagner Ridge." (Wade letter report of Nov. 10, 2003).

NREL has concurred with Wade's assessment of better wind speeds that the current data states. In his February 26 letter report to the Northern Arapaho Business Council, Tony Jimenez states as to "Next Steps":

"I recommend that the Northern Arapaho conduct full-scale monitoring with one or more 50-meter towers... In addition I recommend that the Tribe conduct other pre-project planning to include economic modeling, interconnecting to the grid, environmental assessments and permitting." "Even if you believe that a wind farm would be too costly at this point, I still recommend that the Tribe conduct wind-monitoring and pre-project planning."

The Eastern Shoshone Tribe, working on behalf of both Wind River Reservation Tribes and in conjunction with the Intertribal Council On Utility Policy, seeks to implement the additional monitoring recommended above and will conduct the initial pre-project planning towards future development through this proposal.

Objective

The goal of the proposed project is to provide 50 meter wind monitoring and to engage in pre-project planning activities designed to provide a preliminary evaluation of the technical, economic, social and environmental feasibility of developing a sustainable, integrated wind energy plan for the Eastern Shoshone Tribe. The proposed study will include site selection, wind resource monitoring and assessment, and preliminary environmental review, economic modeling, interconnection, permitting, market and finance identification, to serve on reservation electric loads and explore the export potential of wind energy via private and federal markets.

Scope

The monitoring and pre-project planning will focus on analyzing, qualifying and quantifying the opportunity for the Tribes to develop, own and operate a commercial wind facility on tribal lands. The objectives of this assessment, and the subsequent (hopefully) wind project development, are to maximize the economic benefits to the Tribe and to create employment for tribal members.

The specific pre-project study objectives focus on the qualification of the selected site as a candidate for the development, financing, construction and operations of a commercial wind energy generation facility. In order to a be a candidate for commercial development, the site will require (i) a wind resource with an annual average wind speed in excess of thirteen miles per hour (13 mph), (ii) a preliminary environmental assessment indicating no significant impact, (iii) an electrical transmission capacity capable of accepting the energy from the project and (iv) a source of financing that results in economic viability. This pre-project assessment will define the facts relative to these issues.

Cultural resource impacts will also be included in the study as Native American peoples have always respected the earth in reverence as a holy, living entity providing the foundation for all life.

Project Location

The Eastern Shoshone Indian Tribe of the Wind River Reservation (Tribe) is located on Tribal Lands in central Wyoming and including portions of Fremont, Sublette, Washakie and Hot Springs counties. The Tribe occupies and governs the reservation jointly with the Northern Arapaho Indian Tribe. Each Tribe is a sovereign nation empowered to enter into contracts independently, though the Tribes have a Joint Business Council (JBC) which has authority over matters of concern to both Tribes.

Project Status

This project is complete. For details, see the final report. The project was competitively selected under the Tribal Energy Program's FY 2005 solicitation, "Renewable Energy Development on Tribal Lands," and started May 2006. For more information, see the project status reports from October 2006 and November 2007.

For additional details, contact the project contact.

Project Contact

Jeremy Perry, Tribal Planner
Eastern Shoshone Tribe
15 North fork Road
Fort Washakie, WY 82514
Phone: 307-332-3084
E-mail: jwperry1@washakie.net