Fort Belknap Indian Community - 2006 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Fort Belknap Indian Community
Location: Harlem, MT
Project Title: Fort Belknap Indian Community Wind Energy Feasibility Study
Type of Application: Feasibility
DOE Grant Number: DE-FG36-06GO16027
Project Amounts:
DOE: $195,691
Awardee: $30,366
Total: $226,057
Project Status: See project status
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: May 2006
End: October 2007

Summary

The community will conduct a wind feasibility study to determine if resources are substantial enough to be developed economically and will also assess whether integration of their existing ethanol refinery and wind energy can provide an opportunity to become more energy independent. The Fort Belknap Indian Reservation, home to the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Tribes, is located 40 miles south of the Canadian border in North Central Montana. The Study's objective is to fully evaluate the Reservation's potential for wind energy development both for use on Reservation and for export off Reservation. In addition, the Tribe will evaluate the potential for wind/electric water pumping and modern wind/mechanical water pumping systems for remote areas of the reservation and for wind/hybrid systems that may be used on Reservation in ways that may assist the applicant in managing its energy costs.

Project Description

Recognizing that Montana ranks fifth among all states in wind energy potential, but has had almost no wind energy development, the Fort Belknap Indian Community will investigate the opportunities for wind energy development on the Reservation. Previously, in pursuit of its tribal energy vision, on November 6, 2002, the Tribe installed a 20 meter meteorological tower in the northwest portion of the Reservation. That installation was accomplished with equipment on loan through the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Equipment Loan Program.

The Tribe has developed a strategy to support its cultural, social and long term goals by maximizing the use of its sustainable natural resources in order to provide economic development and opportunities for employment, as well as to reinforce its sovereignty and self determination. The details of the tribal energy vision and strategic plan encompass the development of the Tribes renewable energy resources such as wind and biofuels. The Tribe envisions a time when its members will enjoy not only true energy self-sufficiency but a thriving renewable energy business that will become an economic engine for themselves and the region. This will provide a more stable basis for the long term viability of its community and traditions.

Objective

The Wind Energy Feasibility Study's ("Study") objective is to fully evaluate the Reservation's potential for wind energy development both for use on Reservation and for export off Reservation. In addition, the Tribe will evaluate the potential for wind/electric water pumping and modern wind/mechanical water pumping systems for remote areas of the reservation and for wind/hybrid systems that may be used on Reservation in ways that may assist the Tribe in managing its energy costs.

Fort Belknap Indian Community intends to install a new 50 meter meteorological tower in the northwest portion of the reservation, move the existing 20 meter meteorological equipment to a location near an elementary school in the community of Lodgepole, in the southern portion of the reservation and to install meteorological equipment on a communications tower near Route 66 in the center of the Reservation. The Community also plans to conduct environmental Phase One Screenings and Archeological/Cultural reviews for all three sites as well as conducting a preliminary transmission/ interconnection analysis. Distributed wind water pumping systems, focusing on the area west of Three Buttes in the center portion of the Reservation. Based upon the data collected from the meteorological equipment, preliminary economic model will be generated to will assist the Tribe in discussing power purchases with the local utilities.

Should the Study identify wind energy projects capable of economic development the Tribe intends to seek further funds for development studies that will enable it to construct the wind energy projects, whether they are the larger wind farms or the smaller distributed systems. The potential benefits to the Tribe include sustainable revenue streams, construction and ongoing operations and maintenance employment, reduced power costs and energy independence.

Scope

The Tribe will build upon the existing wind energy evaluation effort by conducting a comprehensive wind energy feasibility study, "The Fort Belknap Wind Energy Feasibility Study." This Study will help the Tribe determine whether the wind resources at specific sites on the Reservation are capable of being developed economically. For example, in addition to the normal components of a wind energy feasibility study, the Tribe will correlate its existing ethanol refinery feasibility analysis with this Study in order to determine whether the refinery and wind energy may be integrated in a manner which will offer a unique opportunity to become more energy independent while simultaneously supporting traditional cultural and philosophical underpinnings.

Project Location

Fort Belknap Indian Reservation ("Reservation"), home to the Gros Ventre and Assiniboine Tribes is located 40 miles south of the Canadian Border in North Central Montana. The Reservation encompasses an area consisting of 675,147 acres which extends approximately 28 miles east and west and 35 miles north and south, making it the fourth largest Indian reservation in Montana. Approximately 4,921 members live on or near the reservation.

Project Status

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 (PDF 2.9 MB) and November 2007 (PDF 4.9 MB). Download Adobe Reader.

For additional details, contact the project contact.

Project Contact

C. John Healey
Planner
Fort Belknap Indian Community
R.R. #1, Box 66
Harlem, MT 59526
Phone: 406-353-8469
Fax: 406-353-8434
E-mail: cjohnhealysr@fortbelknapnations-nsn.gov