The Tribal Energy Program website is moving!

Content is not being updated during this brief transition.

For the latest information about funding opportunities, technical assistance, and training for tribes, please visit the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Indian Energy website.

Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians - 2011 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Santa Ynez Band Chumash Indians, Santa Ynez Band
Location: Santa Ynez, CA
Project Title: Santa Ynez Chumash Strategic Energy Planning and Capacity Building Project 
Type of Application: First Steps (Planning)
DOE Grant Number: DE-EE0005056
Project Amounts:
DOE: $81,865
Awardee: $0
Total: $81,865
Project Status: See project status
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: September 2011
End: December 2013


The Santa Ynez Band of Chumash Indians (SYBCI) will prepare a comprehensive, strategic energy plan that incorporates energy efficiency, renewable energy, and other energy management and development options. The plan will address issues and opportunities on all tribally owned lands, including tribal fee-own lands and the Santa Ynez Indian Reservation. In addition, the SYBCI will build its capacity to effectively develop and implement its strategic energy plan.

Project Description


The SYBCI has jurisdiction over a 137-acre reservation, held in trust by the federal government and near Santa Ynez, within Santa Barbara County, California.

Within the reservation there are 100 homes, the Tribal Government Administration Building, an outpatient health clinic, a fire station, a casino, a 106-room hotel, two parking structures, three restaurants, and a wastewater treatment plant (WWTP). There are also 45 vehicles that make up the tribal fleet, including approximately 12 full-size shuttle buses.

Off-reservation the SYBCI owns several properties (in fee simple) throughout Santa Barbara County, including two small gas stations, another hotel, another restaurant, a parking lot, the Chumash Employee Resource Center building, seven acres of undeveloped land along the northern boundary of the reservation, and a 1,390-acre tract of land recently acquired by the tribe that has some agricultural activities but is mainly undeveloped, open space.

The energy for the Tribal Government Administration Building, health clinic, fire station, and Parker property is all managed directly by the tribal government. The tribal government also provides energy management services to residents of the reservation. The energy for all other properties/facilities is managed by the Chumash Casino Resort Facilities Department.

As the SYBCI's resource agency, the Santa Ynez Chumash Environmental Office (SYCEO) is responsible for creating strategic plans for the overall, long-term management and development of the tribe's natural resources, including energy.

Project Objectives

The objectives of this project are to:

  1. Conduct a baseline assessment of the SYBCI's energy resources and develop a system for centralized, ongoing tracking and analysis of tribal energy data

  2. Develop a strategic energy plan that establishes a unifying vision that is consistent with the tribe's long-term cultural, social, energy, and economic goals

  3. Identify renewable energy, energy efficiency, and other feasible supply- and demand-side options that will be integrated into the strategic energy plan

  4. Build the tribe's capacity for understanding, managing, and developing energy resources through training, distribution of information materials, and community meetings.

Project Scope

The SYBCI will bestow the primary responsibility for accomplishing the project objectives upon the SYCEO. To develop a strategic energy plan, the SYCEO will follow the guidelines described in the Guide to Tribal Energy Development. The SYCEO will also attend appropriate trainings and/or forums to improve and share expertise, create and distribute educational literature, and hold public meetings to involve the tribal community in the strategic planning process.

This project will correspond with the cultural, social, self-sufficiency, and economic goals of the SYBCI. The strategic plan will incorporate procedures and guidelines for avoiding impacts to cultural resources. This plan will also promote the use of energy efficiency, conservation, and renewable energy, which are consistent with the cultural values of land stewardship and living in harmony with the natural environment. Socially, the energy plan will integrate job creation and
energy cost-reduction opportunities for tribal community members, especially low-income descendants. By considering energy independence and local power production, the plan will support self-sufficiency, as will the proposed capacity-building efforts. Lastly, the plan will direct the responsible parties to investigate the financial implications of all identified energy options to ensure that approved expenditures are in accordance with the SYBCI's economic goals.

As the SYBCI's resource agency, the SYCEO is responsible for creating strategic plans for the overall, long-term management and development of the tribe's natural resources, including energy.

Baseline Assessment and Ongoing Data Tracking

The first step of this project will be to determine an energy baseline for all activities and operations on tribal lands. The SYCEO has access to all energy data related to government and residential operations, and the Facilities Department will provide data from the commercial sector and all remaining data. This information will be organized in a centralized database. The SYCEO will also set up procedures for regularly collecting and analyzing future data, which will be critical for evaluating the effectiveness of measures implemented pursuant to the Strategic Energy Plan.

Strategic Energy Plan Development

The SYCEO will develop a Strategic Energy Plan based on the guidelines provided in the U.S. Department of Energy's Guide to Tribal Energy Development. This process will include creating a vision statement, identifying energy champions, determining energy needs and forecasts, identifying and prioritizing energy resource options, and writing the strategic plan. This plan will provide long-term guidance for all of the tribe's energy management and development activities. The first step in this process will be to create a vision statement that determines the tribe's objectives for managing and developing energy resources. This vision will incorporate cultural, social, economic, and self-sufficiency values. This vision will guide all future energy decisions.

To formulate this vision, SYCEO staff will identify values and goals through meetings, surveys, and interviews with tribal committees and community members. Initially the SYCEO staff will serve as energy champions. However, throughout this project the tribe hopes to identify additional or even replacement energy champions. These will be individuals throughout the tribal enterprise that show enthusiasm for the process and demonstrate commitment to accomplishing Strategic Energy Plan goals. After the baseline is determine and a vision is established, the SYBCI can focus on forecasting energy needs. This will involve a rigorous analysis of current energy arrangements and needs, as well as future energy needs. Working with the Facilities Department and other project partners, the SYCEO and other partners will consider potential issues and factors that can affect future energy demand and supply. Next the SYCEO will work with the Facilities Department to identify energy options for all tribal lands across all sectors. A preliminary evaluation of these options will then be conducted and priorities will be set (with tribal community input) for selecting options. The SYCEO will then draft the Strategic Energy Plan, release it for a 30-day period for public comment, revise the plan based on community feedback, and submit the final plan for Tribal Business Committee review and approval.

Capacity Building

To build the SYBCI's capacity to manage and develop its energy resources, SYCEO staff members will attend one or more conference or workshops on strategic energy planning. To increase awareness of energy efficiency and renewable energy opportunities and encourage involvement in the energy planning process, the SYCEO will also create and distribute informative literature throughout the project period.

Project Location

The SYBCI has jurisdiction over a 137-acre reservation, held in trust by the federal government and near Santa Ynez, within Santa Barbara County, California.

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 "First Steps Toward Developing Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency on Tribal Lands" (DE-FOA-0000422), and started in September 2011.

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

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

Project Contact

Josh Simmons
Environmental Director
P.O. Box 517, Santa Ynez, CA 93460
805-688-7997 x15