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Lower Brule Sioux Tribe - 1994 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Lower Brule Sioux Tribe
Location: Lower Brule, SD
Project Title: Feasibility Study - Renewable Energy Products
Type of Application: Feasibility
DOE Grant Number: DE-FG48-94R810523
Project Amounts:
DOE: $247,300
Awardee: $86,800
Total: $334,100
Project Status: Complete  More
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: September 1994
End: September 1997

Project Description


Located in the center of South Dakota, the Lower Brule Sioux reservation has significant natural resources, including a 250,000-acre land base, a lake with surface area of 80 square miles, artesian wells of geothermal water, average wind speeds of 10-15 mph, and hydropower potential. Specific aspects to be investigated include: current energy usage by sector; a farm energy system (ethanol and methane); a community energy system (batteries and fuel cells); photovoltaic, hydro, geothermal, and wind potential; and potential for demand-side management. In addition, the tribe is investigating the possibility of establishing its own utility authority, in part to qualify for an allocation of Western Area Power Administration hydropower.

Goals and Objectives

The tribe aims to become as energy self-sufficient as possible, in ways that protect the environment. The Department of Energy (DOE) is funding their effort to develop its integrated resource plan that will link energy consumption and production in an optimum manner.

Project Actions and Resultant Data

The renewable energy team from Sandia reviewed the Lower Brule Sioux in October 1996, and found several potential sites for renewable energy application. The following list indicates projects with the best possible renewable energy potential.

Possible Projects for the Lower Brule Sioux

  • Residential domestic hot water

  • Hot water for resort (but not school)

  • Pool heating

  • Photovoltaic lighting in areas where remote lighting is needed

  • Energy conservation for residents (retrofit); attic insulation, caulking/weather stripping, light replacements, water heater blankets, window coverings (shades, storm windows)

  • Energy conservation on large buildings (retrofit); high-efficiency lighting, motor replacements with high efficiency motors

  • Photovoltaics to supply electricity in new areas instead of extending the grid

  • Standard, old-fashioned, water-pumping windmills

The photos show the village of Lower Brule on the Missouri River, a wind-measuring anemometer, and several grain storage silos.

The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe of South Dakota carried out a feasibility study of utilizing renewable energy and energy efficiency measures to become as energy self-sufficient as possible. Energy conservation measures for homes, such as daylighting and increased insulation, appeared to be the most cost effective. The most promising renewable resource is wind, with average wind speeds of 10-15 mph.

Implementing Renewable Energy Equipment

While the Lower Brule Sioux Reservation has good potential resources, the type of application will depend on whether the project under consideration is for a new or existing structure. For new structures, renewable energy options can be included in the design of the building, before construction begins. Some of these options, such as building orientation, are not feasible for existing structures, due to the increased cost. For existing structures, other renewable energy possibilities would be more cost-efficient.

Below is a checklist of renewable energy options to consider for either new structures or existing structures. "Commercial Buildings" include offices, schools, and stores; "Industrial Buildings" are primarily manufacturing plants; "Farm Buildings" include barns and equipment sheds; and "Minor Structures" refers to remote cattle water stations and remote storage bins.

Checklist for Renewable Energy Projects - New Structures:
  • New Housing

    • Passive solar design
    • Orientation
    • Domestic hot water
    • Solar water heating
    • Pool heating
    • Energy conservation
  • New Commercial Buildings

    • Passive solar design
    • Orientation
    • Solar wall
    • Energy conservation
    • High-efficiency lighting
    • Insulation
    • Daylighting and skylights
  • New Industrial Buildings

    • Solarwall
    • Passive solar design
    • Energy conservation
    • Daylighting and skylights
    • Insulation
  • New Farm Buildings

    • Passive solar design
    • Orientation
    • Wind protection
    • Photovoltaic lighting
    • Solar water heating
    • Windmills for areas with low electricity needs and/or water pumps
  • New Minor Structures

    • Windmills
    • Passive solar design
    • Orientation
    • Photovoltaic lighting and pumping
Checking List for Renewable Energy Projects - Existing Structures:
  • Existing Housing

    • Energy conservation
    • Replace insulation
    • New, high-efficiency water heaters
    • New windows
    • Solar water heating
  • Existing Commercial Buildings

    • Energy conservation
    • Daylighting
  • Existing Industrial

    • Energy conservation
    • Daylighting
  • Existing Farm Buildings

    • Wind
    • Photovoltaics
    • Solar thermal
  • Existing Minor Structures

    • Wind
    • Photovoltaic
    • Solar thermal

Results, Conclusions, Findings, and Recommendations

Sandia recommends using wind energy as much as possible. Energy conservation measures and daylighting are economical first choices.

Project Status

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

Project Contact

Lower Brule Sioux Tribe
PO Box 187
Lower Brule, SD 57548
Telephone: (605) 473-5566