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Pinoleville Pomo Nation - 2010 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Pinoleville Pomo Nation
Location: Ukiah, CA
Project Title: Clean, Reliable, Affordable Energy that Reflects the Values of the Pinoleville Pomo Nation
Type of Application: Feasibility
DOE Grant Number: DE-EE0002518
Project Amounts:
DOE: $101,630
Awardee: $4,860
Total: $106,490
Project Status: See project status
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: March 2010
End: December 2011


The Pinoleville Pomo Nation (PPN) will assess the feasibility of producing clean energy for current and future tribal needs, and for limited supply to neighboring residential and commercial properties. The project, "Clean, Reliable, Affordable Energy that Reflects the Values of the Pinoleville Pomo Nation," will define a feasible system of alternative energy production. The system will be resilient and flexible, mixing energy sources to avoid too much dependence on any one source. It will include sources that produce only low or no greenhouse gases, particulate matter, or other sources of pollution. The system will be one that the PPN can largely maintain with current labor and finances, and one that can operate independently of the regional power grid if necessary. The system should create employment and training opportunities for PPN citizens and local neighbors.

Project Description


PPN is one of the tribal nations involved in the Tillie-Hardwick decision. This court decision reinstated federal recognition to many California tribes. However, during the two-decade fight for reinstatement, the PPN lost control of its land base, saw community life dissolve, and struggled to maintain important cultural practices. The PPN Tribal Council's principal responsibility is to reverse this decline and create a vibrant, resilient tribal nation. This means creating employment opportunities and decent, affordable housing on PPN's lands. It means supporting healthy lifestyles and a healthy environment for PPN citizens. It means promoting Pomo cultural practices and skill-building for the emerging U.S. economy. It also means engaging with neighbors as responsible, respected equals.

Project Objectives

The primary objective for the feasibility study is to design an energy system that can meet PPN needs for residential, public service, and commercial power now and into the near future. Current needs are limited, as the PPN has regained control over approximately a third of its federally recognized lands just within the last decade. However, plans are being developed for an expansion of housing, PPN government functions, and commercial activities that PPN would like to power through renewable energy. Energy demand projections will be based on new housing designs that will be tested during the course of the project and the total number of houses to be built. Plans are in place for an expanded greenhouse and garden project, and there are plans for a resort that must be accounted for. Public buildings that have been included in the planning documents and that will need power include new administrative buildings, a new Head Start, a youth center, a recreational center, and perhaps a cultural center. Other projects may be added to the list, when an Integrated Resource Management Plan is finalized, and the tribe will anticipate power needs as well.

A second objective is to make the project self-sustaining. This means covering maintenance and operation costs, but also depreciation, technological upgrades and further training. PPN will cover these costs by charging power users within the PPN. However, to keep costs reasonable, and to help stimulate PPN housing and commerce, the ability to sell power to others will be explored. The determination will be whether to do this through sales to the grid or through direct supply, as a small-scale utility, to neighbors. Additional revenue will be sought through the carbon emissions trading network that is currently being developed. The PPN would like to reduce carbon emissions as an inherent good, but is open to increasing revenues by trading credits to those who need them.

A third objective is to reduce pollution. As noted, PPN is anxious to reduce carbon emissions as a way of addressing climate change. Carbon emissions are expected from current levels by 15 to 20 tons.  It is expected that additional power generation will be carbon neutral—no new emissions will be added despite the expansion of housing, public facilities, and commercial enterprises. Shifting to renewable energy will also benefit local air and water quality as there is a shift away from propane and inefficient wood stoves for heating, and reduce brush fires as material is collected for biomass energy production.

The fourth objective is to create energy-related jobs. PPN intends to have three to four PPN workers trained by engineers from a local nonprofit to assess renewable energy potential, and then to make this crew available to partner tribes and other area tribes to assist with their assessments. The trainees clearly won't be able to do the work of engineers, but they could help install, monitor, and evaluate readings from equipment used by engineers. This training should also provide a foundation for those interested in pursuing careers in renewable energy installations. The PPN will work with local providers and rehabilitation programs to promote PPN citizen participation in this growing part of the economy.


The analysis will be based on the following engineering and economic methods:

  1. Feasibility studies for the following renewable energy resources will be conducted using U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funds: micro-hydroelectric, moderate-temperate geothermal electrical, geothermal heat pumps, biomass, biogas, wind, solar electric, and solar thermal. Studies will include site-specific resource assessments, marginal and lifetime cost analyses, and life-cycle analysis to determine environmental impact.
  2. Energy consumption of existing PPN buildings has already been analyzed and will be used to project future energy demand. New housing, based on a roundhouse-type design stemming from a co-design process between PPN tribal members and students from UC Berkeley, will be constructed on reservation land in Ukiah. These structures will be built to the highest level of energy efficiency and sustainability. A prototype roundhouse will be finished by the end of 2009; energy consumption statistics from this building will be closely monitored, to determine energy consumption of the PPN community, given construction of these new, energy-efficient buildings. Geographic Information System software will be employed to conduct a spatial analysis to determine preferences and constraints on the location of infrastructure.
  3. Collaboration with a local university program to determine social and cultural preferences for energy production and transmission, including scale, location, visibility, and other features.
  4. A legal review of draft contracts for suppliers of raw materials and contracts for energy customers.

Based on these inputs, the engineers from a local nonprofit and PPN staff will develop a series of renewable energy system scenarios, with different mixes of energy sources, different site plans, and different transmission and connection approaches. Outside expert advice will be obtained on the economic and technical merits of the plan during the fourth workshop, and PPN invite partner agencies to help set a schedule for obtaining permits and identify sources for financing and training.

Project Location

The primary site for the feasibility study will be on PPN's federally recognized tribal lands. These are located just north of the city of Ukiah in Mendocino County, California, and occupy 99 acres. A second site is the Sozonni property, a parcel of land held fee simple by the PPN just west of the city of Ukiah that is reserved for housing developments.  A third site is the Pinoleville Heights housing development just north of the city of Lakeport in Lake County, California.

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 2009 funding opportunity announcement, "Assessing the Feasibility of Renewable Energy Development and Energy Efficiency Deployment on Tribal Lands," and started in March 2010.

The November 2009, October 2010, November 2011, and March 2014 project status reports provide more information.

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

Project Contact

Lenora Steele
500B Pinoleville Drive
Ukiah, CA 95482

David Edmunds
500B Pinoleville Drive
Ukiah, CA 95482
707-463-1454 ext. 116