Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians  - 2011 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians
Location: San Jacinto, CA
Project Title: Soboba Strategic Tribal Energy Planning
Type of Application: First Steps (Planning)
DOE Grant Number: DE-EE0005060
Project Amounts:
DOE: $62,130
Awardee: $3,245
Total: $65,375
Project Status: See project status
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: September 2011
End: December 2012

Summary

The Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians would like to begin to focus on renewable sources for electricity and to actively target lowering the energy usage of the community. Based on a past U.S. Department of Energy (DOE)-funded study, it was decided that the tribe would aim to achieve a 5% reduction in energy each year over a five-year period. This would be a total reduction of 25% of the 2009 baseline energy data and costs. This reduction would be accomplished by designing a program so that small, incremental gains in energy efficiency could be accomplished each year.

In order to meet the objective of a 5% reduction in energy use each year, the tribe will need to do the following:

  1. Identify community members who will be actively involved in the energy efficiency and conservation effort.

  2. Focus on behavioral changes in tribal community members through further community outreach, including the introduction of renewable energy knowledge into the tribal school's curriculum.

  3. Work on the development of green building codes for new construction on the reservation so that a firm mechanism is in place to ensure energy efficiency is integrated into all new Tribal construction projects.

  4. Identify transit and transportation issues on the reservation through investigating alternative modes of transportation focusing on the importance of fuel efficiency.

  5. Identify renewable energy sources and conduct planning and feasibility studies to gauge the viability of these types of projects.

  6. Address capacity building within the tribal structure to support energy efficiency and conservation efforts through additional trainings.

Project Description

Background

The Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians has had an active Environmental Department for over a decade. The department's mission statement is "The Soboba Band of Luiseno Indians Environmental Department is committed to protecting, restoring, and enhancing natural resources on the Soboba reservation for all Tribal members past, present, and future."

In the past, this department has utilized funding from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to support projects such as water monitoring, solid waste clean-up, emissions inventories, and the development of environmental codes and ordinances. These projects were aimed at protecting and preserving the natural resources of the tribe's land. In recent years, the tribe has realized the importance of focusing on renewable energy sources and energy efficiency projects on the reservation land. Consequently, the Environmental Department began to utilize a portion of EPA grant monies to fund small community outreach activities. Over the past two years, the department has conducted community outreach and education on incandescent light bulbs with CFLS, the benefits of ENERGY STAR appliances and applicable rebate programs for those appliances, and small weatherization projects for homes.

In October 2009, the tribe was awarded a DOE American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant in the amount of $25,000. At that time, the tribe utilized these monies to contract with a Colorado-based energy consulting firm to complete an "Energy Efficiency and Conservation Strategy Report" for the tribe. This document provided the tribe with the data needed to adequately gauge its energy usage, survey community members on their interests and attitudes toward renewable energy projects, and conduct an initial evaluation of the tribe's renewable energy potential. Through the developed survey and responses received from the community, it was found that the majority of tribal members did indeed have a strong interest in renewable energy. Upon the completion of this report and its review by the Soboba Tribal Council, it was directly ordered by the Tribal Council and Tribal Administrator that the Environmental Department make it a priority to develop a strategic plan to address the findings in the report.

Project Objectives

The final objectives of the Soboba Strategic Tribal Energy Planning Project (SSTEP) are to develop and produce the following products through the implementation of the SSTEP:

  1. One five-year energy vision statement for the Soboba Tribe, to include a minimum 5% benchmark reduction in energy usage for each year.

  2. One corresponding five-year action plan to include specific "demand side" and "supply side" energy reduction projects.

  3. One corresponding community outreach campaign for addressing a benchmark reduction goal.

Once the project is completed, the tribe will have a guidance document to reference, which will aid in making informed decisions during future renewable energy and energy efficiency projects. The finalized plan, consisting of the five-year energy vision, action plan, and community outreach campaign would serve as a guidance document for the next five years that would be integrated into or referenced for all future Soboba energy decisions, including energy reduction projects, new construction, and community outreach. The tribe will be able to build upon, document, and plan to begin to work on other related projects that will be directly based on the tribe's energy visions. Future projects will include Energy Options Analysis, Feasibility Studies, and, eventually, installation and construction projects.

Project Scope

As the finalized products would include a guidance document for the tribe for the next five years, the tribe would like it to be developed without the aid of outside consulting firms or contractors. Current Environmental and Public Works staff would work with the aid of an energy project specialist to develop the SSTEP Plan. These activities would be supported by sending key staff members to the annual national Renewable Energy for Tribal Communities Workshop and to local DOE-sponsored strategic energy planning workshops. In addition, a Soboba Tribal Energy Planning Workgroup would be formed, with members from the tribe's Cultural Resources and Economic Development department and members of the Soboba community being brought together to periodically review and comment on the in-process project documents. It is the tribe's belief that the most effective strategic energy planning project is one that is developed directly by the community and administrative organization that it will affect. The formation of this work group would aid in ensuring that the plan is developed with the tribe's current economic, social, and cultural goals in mind.

The proposed project will utilize the management concept based on the following components: planning, organizing, directing, and control. Project staff will work on an approved 12-month project implementation plan. This planning document will be the central reference document for all staff involved in this project. Upon receipt of the grant award and prior to the grant start date, project staff will meet to discuss the project implementation plan and each staff's corresponding responsibilities and tasks will be laid out at this time. Microsoft Projects software will be utilized
to help keep track of the project's progress. After this initial meeting, staff will continue meeting on a monthly basis to track current project objectives and organize and direct future tasks accordingly. During the first two months of the project, the Soboba Tribal Energy Planning Workgroup will be formed and will meet on a bi-monthly basis. It is the responsibility of the group to ensure that the tribe's economic, social, and cultural goals are addressed during the design of the SSTEP documents. By adhering to this stringent meeting schedule, the tribe anticipates that it will be able to address and overcome any potential barriers in a timely manner. The tribe's grant coordinator will be tasked with the final control of grant reports related to this project.

Project Location

On June 19, 1883, the Soboba Indian Reservation was established by an Executive Order that set aside 3,172.03 acres of land for the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians for their permanent occupation and use. Located at the foothills of the San Jacinto Mountains in Riverside County, the reservation has deep canyons and rolling hills. It is 1,600 feet above sea level beginning at the San Jacinto River, which borders the reservation's western boundary and climbs to about 2,600 feet in the northeastern and southern portions.

Project Status

This project is complete. 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 and November 2012 project status reports provide more information.

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

Project Contact

Rebecca Tortes
Grant Coordinator
P.O. Box 487, San Jacinto, CA 92581
951-654-2765 x4117
rtortes@soboba-nsn.gov

Erica Helms-Schenk
Environmental Director
P.O. Box 487, San Jacinto, CA 92581
951-654-2765 ext. 4129
ehelms@soboba-nsn.gov