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Forest County Potawatomi Community - 2011 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Forest County Potawatomi Community
Location: Milwaukee, WI
Project Title: Assessing the Feasibility of Comprehensive Energy Efficiency Upgrades at Potawatomi Carter Casino Hotel, Carter, Wisconsin
Type of Application: Feasibility
DOE Grant Number: DE-EE0005172
Project Amounts:
DOE: $143,378
Awardee: $7,000
Total: $150,378
Project Status: See project status
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: September 2011
End: December 2012


The Forest County Potawatomi Community (FCPC) will conduct an energy efficiency feasibility study at Potawatomi Carter Casino Hotel (PCCH) in Northern Wisconsin. To complete this energy efficiency study, the tribe will contract a qualified team of energy consultants to conduct a comprehensive feasibility study, including a full-scale energy audit. The tribe expects detailed reports and actionable recommendations to yield at least a 30% reduction in overall energy use, once implemented, at the PCCH.

The PCCH was selected as the focal point for this study based on data documented in the tribe's quarterly Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Reports (2007–2010). According to the most recent report (February, 2011), tribal energy efficiency initiatives successfully reduced overall energy use (per square foot of building space) at tribally owned facilities by 11.8%. Despite this accomplishment, energy consumption at PCCH increased by 9.1% during the same period.

Project Description


Comprehensive energy efficiency feasibility testing for the PCCH is consistent with the tribe's long-term energy vision. This vision is to ultimately reduce the tribe's carbon footprint to zero while leading energy strategy initiatives, which support and promote the efforts of others working to reduce their own carbon footprints. The tribe's culture and traditions establish in it a duty to help protect and enhance environmental resources, both on and near the reservation and throughout the world. This is reflected in the FCPC environmental mission statement:

"The traditional values of the Forest County Potawatomi Community teach us to respect all living things, to take only what we need from mother earth, and to preserve the air, water, and soil for our children. Reflecting these values, we take leadership in creating a sustainable and healthy world. We resolve to reduce our own environmental impacts and to take steps to remedy the impacts of others. We encourage others to do the same. We also seek legislative and policy changes that protect the environment for all people, including generations to come."

This sense of duty has led the tribe to take on a leadership role with respect to several critical environmental issues that affect the FCPC membership, the state of Wisconsin and the nation as a whole. For example, FCPC began conducting energy audits of the tribe's major occupied facilities in 2007. The tribe also initiated a facility-wide energy efficiency program and more recently established a residential energy efficiency program to support the efforts of individual tribal members. As previously mentioned, usage data and activities pertaining to the tribe's energy initiatives are routinely recorded in a quarterly Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions Report. With the support of the U.S. Department of Energy, Focus on Energy, and other partners, FCPC is working diligently to demonstrate and develop a range of effective long-term strategies for energy conservation in Indian Country. To this end, the tribe is developing several major renewable energy and energy efficiency projects on both the primary reservation in northern Wisconsin and on or near tribal lands in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Project Objectives

The overall project goal is to advance the environmental mission of the Forest County Potawatomi Community by conducting a comprehensive feasibility study that yields a 30% minimum reduction in energy consumption at the tribally owned PCCH.

To support and ultimately achieve the tribe's long-term environmental vision, FCPC has outlined three main goals:

  1. To reduce its energy footprint by increasing energy efficiency in its tribally owned facilities
  2.  To become energy self-sufficient by using renewable energy sources to the greatest extent possible
  3.  To invest in larger renewable energy development projects that can benefit the tribe, as well as the state and nation

This project will provide multiple recommendations for energy efficiency measures at the PCCH. Once implemented, the results of the feasibility study are expected to significantly increase energy efficiency at PCCH. These outcomes directly align with first long-term goal stated above. In addition, because energy consumption at the PCCH has increased over the past three years, the proposed project represents a critical step in the realization of this goal.

Specifically, during the course of this project, FCPC will achieve the following objectives:

  1. Review existing data and complete a comprehensive onsite energy audit for the PCCH
  2. Document current energy consumption and complete an economic assessment of energy use
  3. Project energy savings and prioritize energy conservation measures
  4. Complete an actionable, detailed implementation plan for each identified energy conservation measure
  5. Maximize energy efficiency efforts by effectively engaging PCCH facilities staff and management in all aspects of the feasibility study

Project Scope

The tribe will contract the majority of the work for this feasibility study to a qualified energy consultant. PCCH staff is also committed to the project and will collaborate with the tribe's project manager to ensure the project remains on schedule.

FCPC will work with an energy consultant firm ("contractor") to provide the technical and financial expertise needed to develop and expand a robust sustainability plan that reduces energy waste and emphasizes the responsible use of energy and other resources in a cost-effective manner.

PCCH staff will have the opportunity to fully participate in this project as needed and appropriate lend an additional level of oversight to the project. This will ensure the proposed project is completed to the satisfaction of PCCH management and with minimal disruption to tribal members, guests, and daily business/operations.

The proposed project also includes development of a sustainability plan with a specific set of goals and metrics that will incrementally improve the environmental "footprint" of the tribe. Activities will include assessment, planning and goal setting, analysis of projects, measurement of actual performance improvement from these projects, communication to stakeholders, customer public relations, and employee buy-in.

The project aims to advance the environmental mission of the tribe by conducting a comprehensive feasibility study that yields a minimum 30% reduction in energy use at the PCCH. Since FCPC began formal energy efficiency conservation efforts in 2007, the majority of these efforts were focused on tribal government buildings. While these facilities have decreased their energy use by between 25% and 45% during that time, PCCH has increased energy use by 9.1%. It is clear that the tribe's success in its government buildings needs to be carried over to the PCCH.

In 2008, a Walk-through Energy-Efficiency Identification Audit was completed at the PCCH to gain a preliminary assessment of energy-efficiency opportunities. Following the recommendations of the audit report, tribal stakeholders engaged in further discussion to identify options and prioritize measures for implementation. The group found it noteworthy that the report did not contain a recommendation to replace the individual electric guest room heating units at the hotel.

While this initial audit represented a first step toward improved energy efficiency, the noted omission leaves FCPC with a limited ability to affect energy efficiency change at the hotel. Thus, FCPC has incorporated a full energy audit into this feasibility project.

FCPC will contract with a contractor to assess the feasibility of replacing the aging individual hotel room electric heating units and other critical measures identified in the previous audit report. The project is also designed to include other activities and measures that were not previously studied. For example, a metadata analysis of the tribe's quarterly energy report would provide a weather-normalized multi-year data set and 15-minute demand-interval data. This project also includes sustainability and financing plans and provides additional tools to help FCPC document carbon footprint and environmental impact, including LEED facility or campus certification, ENERGY STAR building label, Energy Conservation Measurement and Verification, Carbon Footprint Verification, Greenhouse Gas Accounting, and renewable energy purchase.

The proposed methodology consists of a six-step assessment process, including data collection, customized communication with personnel (checklist), site visit, analysis, and recommendations. The tribe will evaluate a comprehensive list of potential opportunities for energy savings throughout the PCCH, including lighting, HVAC units and controls, hot water heaters/boilers, weatherization and ventilation options, swimming pool, gaming equipment, kitchen exhaust hood, and other kitchen equipment. The technical and economic viability of each opportunity will be analyzed and a series of recommendations will be brought to the tribe for potential implementation.

Project Location

The FCPC reservation lands consist of 12,000 acres in rural Forest County, Wisconsin. The tribe's reservation lands are "checkerboarded," meaning that non-Indian-owned land and tribal reservation land border each other in several locations, resulting in a visual "checkerboard" of Indian and non-Indian lands. The proposed project will be entirely located in Carter on the FCPC reservation, near the town of Wabeno, Wisconsin.

Project Status

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

The project was competitively selected under the Tribal Energy Program's fiscal year 2011 funding opportunity announcement "Energy Efficiency Development and Deployment in Indian Country" (DE-FOA-0000423) and started in September 2011.

The November 2011, November 2012, and March 2014 project status reports provide more information.

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

Project Contact

Douglas Huck
Senior Paralegal
PO Box 340, Crandon, WI 54520

Terry Rye;
Maintenance Manager - Potawatomi Carter Casino Hotel.
618 State Highway 32, Wabeno, WI 54566