To’Hajilee Economic Development, Inc. - 2010 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: To’Hajilee Economic Development, Inc.
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Project Title: Utility Scale Solar Feasibility Assessment
Type of Application: Feasibility
DOE Grant Number: DE-EE0002521
Project Amounts:
DOE: $250,000
Awardee: $0
Total: $250,000
Project Status: See project status
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: January 2010
End: March 2011

Summary

The goal of Cañoncito Band of Navajos for this project is to successfully complete a feasibility analysis to make informed decisions on technology selection, development, financing, and management of a large solar energy farm planned to be built on trust lands held by our Cañoncito Band. The completed feasibility study will allow the band to better understand the options in developing a business model and selection of construction, management, and financing partners for this major renewable energy project.

"This has been decided upon as a goal of our people in order to reduce our consumption of fossil fuels, allow for a mechanism of sustainable economic development and employment for the community, and increase our capacity for self-sufficiency."

Project Description

Background

The Cañoncito Band of Navajos (CBN) of the Navajo Nation is in a very unique situation. The people inhabit a strategic economic development site. Despite suffering from devastating economic conditions, it maintains a colorful and independent culture and way of life. The community's geographical location is Cañoncito, New Mexico, and it often uses both its Navajo (To'Hajiilee) and Anglo-Hispanic (Cañoncito) designations interchangeably. To'Hajiilee is so small that it does not appear as a unique site in the U.S. Census.

CBN has set aside 250 acres in very close proximity to a major electrical transmission line owned by the Public Service Company of New Mexico, which carries electricity into Albuquerque, New Mexico, only 22 miles away from the proposed site.

Long-Term Energy Vision

CBN's long-term energy vision is stated as follows:

"Our people have long believed that the use of cheap fossil fuels has a limited future. We have not formulated a specific or written long-term energy vision to date, partially due to a lack of detailed development information about available alternatives, which this project is designed to remedy in part. Overall, however, our goal is to reduce our dependence upon energy derived from fossil fuels and to increase our use of renewable energy to the point where it exceeds our demands with the excess energy being resold as an economic engine for the Chapter."

Project Objectives

The objective of this project is to obtain a completed, accurate feasibility analysis of the potential to create a solar electric power-generation facility on lands held by CBN. CBN awaits the recommendation of the analyst to determine production capacity, sizing, and other relevant details. The completion of the feasibility analysis will be the first step in CBN's aggressively pursuing the construction and operation of a facility envisioned not only to be an economic engine for the community but also a source of ecologically sound, long-term power for CBN and its neighbors.

Scope

The project is broken into the key components that the analysis will address to determine the feasibility of the overall project of constructing and managing a solar electric farm. CBN will hire several qualified consultants to engage in a feasibility study detailing the likelihood of success for a solar power generation plant on the site CBN has tentatively selected as most likely to be useful for such purposes. The lead consultant will work hand-in-hand with CBN to hire other selected engineering and technology firms as needed during the feasibility process. The lead consultant will provide independent advice on technology choices, business and management structures, and financing alternatives, as well as develop or modify financial analysis tools.

Elements included in the proposed feasibility analysis will be site-specific resource assessment of solar potential; chapter load assessment and export markets; transmission and interconnection capacity and costs; potential retail purchasers and income trade-offs; an in-depth technology analysis of current and near-term commercially available technology options; an economic sensitivity analysis; an update to the Environmental Assessment; a Chapter Benefit Assessment; work with engineers on preliminary system designs; assessment of potential business structures and outside development and management partners; long-term operations/maintenance and training plans; and other elements as necessary and appropriate.

Project Location

The community is located in Cañoncito, New Mexico, and often uses both its Navajo (To'Hajiilee) and Anglo-Hispanic (Cañoncito) designations interchangeably. To'Hajiilee is so small that it does not appear as a unique site in the U.S. Census. Currently, To'Hajiilee has an estimated 1,905 residents living in 412 residences.

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 January 2010.

The November 2009 and October 2010 project status reports provide more information.

Project Contact

Delores Apache
2155 Louisiana NE, Suite 10100
Albuquerque, NM 87110
505-352-3990
deapache@hotmail.com

Rob Burpo
2155 Louisiana NE, Suite 10100
Albuquerque, NM 87110
505-883-8602
rob@firstamericanfa.com