Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians - 2007 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
Location: Cherokee, NC
Project Title: Strategic Energy Plan
Type of Application: First Steps (Planning)
DOE Grant Number: DE-FG36-07GO17084
Project Amounts:
DOE: $100,000
Awardee: $64,079
Total: $164,079
Project Status: See project status
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: September 2007
End: December 2008

Summary

An Energy Committee consisting of key tribal government personnel will be established to formulate the tribe's energy vision, goals, and objectives, with input from and approval by the Tribal Budget Council, Tribal Council, and Principal Chief. As part of the planning process, the tribe's current energy profile and future needs will be established. The current profile will include the amount of energy used, major energy users, sources of energy, and distribution system. Future projections, consistent with the tribe’s goals for economic development and population growth, will be generated. Gap analysis will be performed to determine those areas that need to be addressed.

Several renewable energy alternatives exist on tribal lands that will be addressed in the Strategic Energy Plan (SEP). The Appalachian Mountains that traverse the reservation offer substantial potential for wind power. Numerous rivers and streams are potential sources of hydropower. The vast forest areas and agricultural lands have enormous potential for energy production from biomass. There are also selected opportunities for solar electrical and thermal power, as well as geothermal heat pump systems. For the most promising alternatives selected, an action plan will be developed to identify those efforts necessary to reach the desired energy future.

Project Description

The Eastern Band's objective is to develop a Strategic Energy Plan that defines the tribe's energy vision, goals and objectives. The tribe plans to establish current energy usage and future needs. The tribe wants to assess the full spectrum of renewable and conventional energy opportunities and energy efficiency options, thereby defining an action plan to reach the defined goals. The potential project impact would be to increase the current number of employment opportunities; provide year-round rather than seasonal; protect the natural environment from current high pollution levels; diversify the present economy, which is heavily dependent on gaming; protect the Great Smoky Mountains National Park; provide stability and future well being for the tribal people and the land they live on; eliminate frequent power interruptions; reduce tribal energy costs and price fluctuations; promote green energy; provide renewable energy learning tools for local schools; generate revenue from the sale of excess electricity; and attract new businesses and jobs.

Objective

The objective of this project is to develop a comprehensive Tribal Strategic Energy Plan that (1) defines the tribe's energy vision, goals, and objectives; (2) establishes current energy usage and future needs; (3) assesses the full spectrum of renewable and conventional energy opportunities and energy efficiency options; and (4) defines an action plan to reach the defined goals.

The SEP will support and be directly tied to the tribe's plans for economic development, preservation of natural resources and the environment, and perpetuation of tribal heritage and culture. The specifics of the plan will be developed as a result of the First Steps grant.

Scope

The tribe will provide personnel to manage the overall First Steps grant effort; develop the tribe's vision, goals, and objectives; prepare data on existing and forecasted energy use; assemble geographic, forestry, agricultural and land use data; oversee and approve all subcontractor efforts; and integrate the results with the tribe's other initiatives. The tribe will establish an energy committee consisting of key tribal government personnel from within the tribe's Planning and Development directorate, Office of Environment and Natural Resources, Strategic Planning, and Geographic Information Systems, along with the Principal Chief's Executive Assistant, to formulate the vision, goals, and objectives.

This broad cross section of committee representation will ensure that the tribe's many different perspectives are represented and that all parts of the tribal government will have a sense of ownership for the results, which is key to plan acceptance and implementation. Interim results will be briefed to the Tribal Planning Board, Tribal Council, and Principal Chief, as appropriate, to ensure the involvement, support, and approval of the tribe's leadership.

The tribe's Strategic Energy Plan will be created using the strategic planning process outlined in DOE's Guide to Tribal Energy Development. The overall process has been divided into six tasks as follows:

  1. Develop the tribe's energy vision, goals, and objectives
  2. Establish the tribe's current and projected energy needs
  3. Identify the available renewable and conventional energy and energy efficiency options
  4. Assess the available options versus the goals and objectives
  5. Develop an action plan for the selected options
  6. Complete the Strategic Energy Plan

During the First Steps phase, only a preliminary assessment of the energy options will be performed to identify the most promising alternatives (i.e., those alternatives that meet the tribe's goals and objectives, are technically feasible, and are financially attractive). Those alternatives will be candidates for feasibility assessments during the next phase of the program. For the alternatives selected, questions that need to be answered will be determined, tasks that need to be performed will be identified, and timelines for those tasks will be established and cost estimates prepared. The goal is to provide the tribe with a management tool to track progress against costs.

The action plan will also address actions associated with needed human capacity building. These actions will include the long-term approach to energy management within the tribe's government, as well as actions associated with building the human capacity needed for the installation, operation, and support of any energy production or efficiency options selected.

Project Location

The Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians is a federally recognized Native American tribe consisting of over 13,000 enrolled members who are direct descendents of those Cherokee who avoided the forced removal to Oklahoma in the 1830s “Trail of Tears.” Over 8,200 members live on the more than 56,000 acres of land held in trust for the tribe by the federal government, known as the Qualla Boundary, bordered by the state of North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

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

Project Status

The project is complete. For details, see the final report. This project was competitively selected under the Tribal Energy Program's FY2007 Funding Opportunity Announcement, "First Steps Toward Developing Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency on Tribal Lands," and started September 2007.

The November 2007 and November 2008 project status reports provide more information.

Project Contact

Damon Lambert, Tribal Planner
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
P.O. Box 455
Cherokee, NC 28719
Telephone: 828-497-1845
Email: damolamb@nc-cherokee.com

Joella Jackson, Environmental Specialist
Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians
P.O. Box 455
Cherokee, NC 28719
Telephone: (828) 497-1832
Email: joeljack@nc-cherokee.com