Morongo Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians: Southwest Tribal Energy Consortium - 2006 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Morongo Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians/Southwest Tribal Energy Consortium
Location: Banning, CA
Project Title: Renewable Energy Feasibility Study
Type of Application: Feasibility
DOE Grant Number: DE-FG36-06GO16025
Project Amounts:
DOE: $199,267
Awardee: $272,043
Total: $471,310
Project Status: Complete  More
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: May 2006
End: April 2007

Summary

The Southwest Tribal Energy Consortium, represented by the Morongo Band, is comprised of tribes in California, Arizona and New Mexico. The consortium's project will focus on use of wind, solar and wind/gas hybrid systems and has the potential to be an important first step toward developing a regional model that could be replicated on other reservations. The Morongo Band of Mission Indians, in collaboration with other Tribal partners, desires to determine the feasibility of developing a renewable energy project or projects to leverage available resources, optimum locations, and access to delivery infrastructure, thus forming the basis for a successful multi-Tribal project.

Project Description

The Morongo Band of Mission Indians ("Morongo"), is one of several members of the Southwest Tribal Energy Consortium ("SWTEC") that have convened informally over the last several months to consider potential collaborative Tribal energy project development opportunities. The Tribes seek to determine the feasibility of developing renewable power generation projects that can leverage available resources, optimum siting locations, and access to delivery infrastructure, thus forming the basis for a successful multi-Tribal project.

The group completed a high-level concept definition study in early January 2005 to identify potentially viable projects within the Reservation lands of the participating Tribes. The Tribes' primary interest is in large-scale projects that can potentially support power export beyond or between the Reservation(s) involved.

While preliminary in nature, the study indicated viability of a number of renewable and conventional generation projects on lands belonging to SWTEC members, and considered resource supply, generation technology alternatives, water needs, transmission access and interconnection, potential power markets, finance alternatives, leveraging incentives, and other parameters. The projects identified thus far include both wind and natural gas resources, and the Tribes collectively have strong interest in the value that renewable development, in particular, can add to their goals - both in terms of alignment with the Tribes' cultural values of sustainability and resource stewardship, and additional leveraging incentives available for renewable projects. Recognizing that resources such as wind and solar energy are intermittent and cannot be sold as firm power in the wholesale market, SWTEC also desires to consider "hybrid" projects that might include natural gas generation in tandem with a renewable source to create a firm power product.

Objective

Several Project objectives have been identified for SWTEC efforts. One primary objective of the Project is to create a formal SWTEC organization that will clarify future roles, responsibilities, and funding requirements for member Tribes, as well as for other Tribes that may wish to participate. Once created, each participant can clearly establish its own level of investment, and gain commitment from its respective organization for future activities and involvement.

A second objective is to determine the feasibility of one or more renewable generation projects on SWTEC participant's lands. Primary determinants will be renewable and conventional energy resources available, interconnection requirements and costs, applicable incentives, financing options, and environmental considerations. In determining feasibility, the study will evaluate whether a fully renewable, but intermittent power product, or a renewable hybrid firm power product, would better meet identified Tribal and market needs.

A third objective would be identification of a generation project with the greatest potential among the alternatives that could be successfully financed, constructed and operated. Definition of the successful project will be based on all the elements listed above, as well as on the potential for PPAs for project power. Ultimately, the Project will create renewable energy generation resources, as well as Tribal energy knowledge that will improve the quality and reliability of electric service on the reservations, support energy self-sufficiency and future encourage economic development, as well as contribute to environmentally clean energy. Through key Project learning, SWTEC members with gain experience and knowledge required for successful development of renewable generation, whether as owners, or participants in future projects.

Scope

The two primary investigation topics involved in this work will be (i) project feasibility, and (ii) multi-Tribe energy organization. The feasibility investigation will be leveraged by work already completed in January 2005. This analysis indicated viability of a number of renewable, hybrid, and conventional generation projects on lands belonging to SWTEC members, and considered resource supply, generation technology alternatives, water needs, transmission access (preliminary power flow studies) and interconnection, potential power markets, finance alternatives, leveraging incentives, and other parameters.

The Multi-Tribe Renewable Generation Project will consist of a comprehensive analysis resulting in identification and definition of one or more viable development options. This work will include evaluation of current and forecasted Tribal loads, further resource characterization, analysis of conservation/energy efficiency/demand management options, and power export feasibility. The study will also include identification of potential power markets, environmental evaluation, preliminary system designs, and development of financial pro-formas. Other key elements of the proposed study include a Community Outreach program to foster awareness and support of project stakeholders.

Project Location

To date, several Tribes have committed to participate in a collaborative effort, known as SWTEC to further evaluate the identify projects and/or others at the more detailed level necessary for feasibility study and development. Expected participants include: Morongo Band of Mission Indians, Agua Caliente Tribe, Fort Mojave Indian Tribe, Jicarilla Apache Tribe, the Southern Ute Tribe of Colorado, and the Puma Band of Mission Indians representing tribal land in Arizona, California, Nevada, and New Mexico.

Project Status

This project is complete. For details, see the final report (PDF 331 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

The project was competitively selected under the Tribal Energy Program's FY2005 solicitation, "Renewable Energy Development on Tribal Lands," and started May 2006. For more information, see the project status reports from October 2006 (PDF 1.9 MB) and November 2007 (PDF 327 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

For other information, contact one of the project contacts.

Project Contact

DeAnna Betzer
Morongo Band of Mission Indians
11581 Potrero Road
Banning, CA 92220
Telephone: (951) 755-5232
Facsimile: (951) 849-9667
Email: deanna_betzer@morongo.org