Yurok Tribe - 2007 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Yurok Tribe
Location: Klamath, CA
Project Title: Wind and Hydro Energy Feasibility Study
Type of Application: Feasibility
DOE Grant Number: DE-FG36-07GO17078
Project Amounts:
DOE: $150,000
Awardee: $22,461
Total: $172,461
Project Status: Complete  More
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: September 2007
End: December 2009

Summary

The tribe is interested in developing renewable energy on the reservation both to meet community energy needs in off-grid areas and to generate tribal revenues through commercial power sales. The goal of this feasibility study is to examine two of the Yurok Tribe's most promising renewable energy resources, wind and hydro, and to provide the tribe with detailed, site-specific information that will result in a comprehensive business plan sufficient to implement a favorable renewable energy project. The proposed work will take place over a two-year period.

Project Description

The specific locations where the wind and hydro resources will be assessed will be decided during the first phase of the project. However, the tribe has some strong preliminary indications of where the resource assessment activities will be conducted. The wind component of the project will likely be located on Requa Hill, immediately north of the mouth of the Klamath River on the bluffs above the Pacific Ocean. The site is within the Yurok Reservation, and ownership of the land is currently being passed from the National Park Service to the tribe. A preliminary assessment indicates this site may have favorable wind potential. It is also located in close proximity to the existing electric utility infrastructure. The hydroelectric component of the project will include various sites in the up-river (southeast) portion of the reservation. The tribe plans to assess the hydroelectric generation potential for commercial power sales on either Pine Creek or Tully Creek. Both creeks are relatively large and are close to the existing electric power infrastructure. The tribe will also assess the potential for a stand-alone, village-scale hydroelectric system that could provide power to a portion of the reservation that is not served by the electric grid. Pecwan and Cappell Creeks, both relatively large and in close proximity to village populations, are prime candidates for this assessment.

Objective

According to the tribe's strategic energy plan, "...the tribe must be in control of all energy developments on the reservation." The plan states that the tribe wishes to own its own energy supply and distribution system. The plan also states that creation of a tribal utility is a desirable means of helping the tribe create jobs on the reservation and build an educated workforce. The "practical vision" put forth in the plan includes generating power to produce revenue for the tribe. Specific actions called for in the strategic energy plan workshop included development of a renewable energy plan and programs.

The Yurok Tribe has been working for many years to provide basic energy services to tribal members on the reservation. Because of the remote location of the reservation in a deep canyon along the Klamath River between its confluence with the Trinity River and the Pacific Ocean, grid electricity is still unavailable to about 60% of the reservation's residents, causing hardship for tribal members and severely thwarting economic development. The reservation's location, straddling two counties in the remotest corners of two utility companies' service territories, presents numerous difficulties in providing adequate and consistent energy services to all residents.

Efforts to promote sustainable development on the reservation are impossible without a reliable and affordable means of electrification. Not only are tribal members denied access to energy services, the energy services they do receive are in many cases at an elevated cost. In addition, approximately 62% of household incomes on the reservation fall below the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services poverty level. On the Yurok Reservation, a recent survey showed that households are spending an average of $328 per month on home energy needs, compared to the U.S. average of $124. And average yearly household income on the reservation is only about $9000, whereas the U.S. median is $43,318.

This emphasizes the need on the reservation for access to affordable energy services. The proposed feasibility study will begin paving the way for development of on-reservation renewable energy resources that will bring needed revenues to the tribe, improve household energy security, and reduce purchases of costly household fuels. Development of wind and hydroelectric resources will be undertaken in close consultation with the tribe's Environmental, Fisheries, Planning and Social Services Departments to ensure any implemented projects are compatible with the tribe's environmental, cultural and social priorities.

Scope

The Yurok Tribe will assess the feasibility of developing wind and hydroelectric energy resources on the Yurok Reservation. Specific objectives include:

  1. Assessment of the wind resource at one site over a one-year period
  2. Assessment of the hydropower resource on two creeks over a one-year period
  3. Assessment of potential constraints to development of renewable energy at these sites, including engineering, environmental, economic, utility, land tenure and cultural constraints, and planning for the mitigation of these constraints where feasible
  4. Preparation of a business plan for development of renewable energy where deemed feasible and beneficial to the tribe.

Project Location

The Yurok Reservation is located in coastal northwestern California and has a total area of 56,585 acres, situated along the lowermost 44 miles of the Klamath River and extending outward for one mile on either side of the river. Tribal landholdings on the reservation are mixed in a "checkerboard" pattern with nontribal fee lands. More than 70% of the reservation lands are held by nontribal owners. Tribal plots are typically small, ranging from 20 to 200 acres each. The Yurok Tribe is the largest tribe in California, with nearly 5000 enrolled members, about 1200 of whom live on the reservation. It is also the poorest California tribe.

Project Status

The project is complete. For details, see the final report.

The project was competitively selected under the Tribal Energy Program's fiscal year 2007 solicitation, "Feasibility of Renewable Energy Projects on Tribal Lands," and started September 2007. For more information, see the project status report from November 2007 (PDF 3.5 MB).

For current project status or additional information, contact one of the project contacts.

Project Contact

Peggy O'Neill
Planning Director
Yurok Tribe
190 Klamath Boulevard
Klamath, CA 95548
Phone: 707-482-1350
E-mail: poneill@yuroktribe.nsn.us

Amanda (Mandy) Mager
Yurok Tribe
190 Klamath Boulevard
Klamath, CA 95548
Phone: 707-482-1366
E-mail: amager@yuroktribe.nsn.us