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Pueblo of Zia - 2012 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Pueblo of Zia
Location: Sandoval, NM
Project Title: Pueblo of Zia Renewable Energy Development Feasibility Study
Type of Application: Feasibility
DOE Grant Number: DE-EE0005628
Project Amounts:
DOE: $179,147
Awardee: $35,000
Total: $214,147
Project Status: See project status
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: June 2012
End: December 2013


The Pueblo of Zia (also referred to as "Zia Pueblo") will conduct a comprehensive feasibility study for best-use application(s) for development of renewable energy resources on its tribally held TRUST lands (i.e., Trust Lands of Zia Indian Reservation). The feasibility study is essential for determining the technical and economic viability of a future renewable project(s) on Zia tribal lands, including the potential economic and environmental benefits for the Tribe.

Project Description


Solar isolation in New Mexico is among the highest in the nation. Possible near-term solar technology applications at Zia include solar-assisted geothermal binary generation and solar photovoltaics. While Zia Pueblo is not located in the highest-potential eastern plains of New Mexico, favorable areas with topographic relief such as mesa tops and ridgelines show moderate to good potential in the Zia Pueblo region. New Mexico is blessed with many forms of geothermal energy. While convective resources are the least expensive to develop and Zia Pueblo overlies elements of the Salado and Valles convective system, deep sedimentary basin or conductive geothermal systems at Zia Pueblo are the focus of the proposed geothermal feasibility study.

The Pueblo of Zia is firmly committed to sustainable, culturally appropriate economic development that will strengthen the Tribe's self-reliance through commercial and industrial employment opportunities, agricultural production and distribution, and cultural tourism. To help realize these goals, the Pueblo has invested significant resources in land acquisition and enterprise planning.

Developable capacity from Zia's renewable resources is estimated to exceed 13,000 kilowatts (kW) (maximum capacity up to 26,800 kW). The annual fossil fuel reduction is estimated to exceed 27,000 short tons of coal, which accrues from two sources: offset of current electricity consumption on tribal land and sellback of excess energy to the grid.

Project Objectives

The feasibility study is essential for determining the technical and economic viability of future renewable project(s) on Zia tribal lands, including the potential economic and environmental benefits for the Tribe to:

  1. Provide a balanced local renewable power supply for Zia Pueblo, its members, tribal offices, schools and buildings, and businesses on tribal lands

  2. Provide a firm power supply for export and commercial market distribution

  3. Provide economic development for the Tribe and its members, including job training and creation, each in accordance with the goals and objectives as conveyed by the Pueblo of Zia Tribal Council, Tribal Administration, and outlined in The Pueblo of Zia Comprehensive Plan and Pueblo of Zia — Zia Enterprise Zone Master Plan.

The Zia believe that man has four sacred obligations: to develop a strong body, a clear mind, a pure spirit, and a devotion to the well-being of the people and the land. Accordingly, Zia has long maintained a fundamental interest in renewable energy, as its most sacred tribal symbol speaks of energy, sustainability, and life. Through development of its renewable energy resources the Pueblo of Zia seeks to meet the goals above.  Development of renewable energy resources at Zia Pueblo will also represent a "coming full circle" with Zia's longstanding traditions of working in harmony and deepest respect with the land, skies, winds and all related natural resources.

A key goal of the study is to analyze the integrated development of solar, geothermal, and wind renewable energy resources at Zia Pueblo, with added potential to combine gas-fired generation to accomplish energy firming. Geothermal offers a base load source of energy, providing power continuously for end users. Wind and solar offer intermediate and peaking sources of energy, which can be harvested throughout the day, with periods of variable but predicable output. Variability will be managed in an integrated manner, using Zia Pueblo's combined renewable resources to generate high-quality power.

Project Scope

Tasks are intended to collect, catalog, map, and analyze existing data on Zia Pueblo's renewable energy resource base and then match resource attributes with the most suitable renewable technologies for tribal energy consumption and needs. Also, key impacts on cultural and social values of Zia Pueblo will be addressed. Selected most favorable uses and technologies will be further investigated to determine initial feasibility and market for business development for up to six sites located on tribal land.

The anticipated result will be the recommended development of sites that have sufficient background study completed to warrant a business plan, detailed engineering feasibility, and acquisition of project financing. Valuable technical and economic information will accrue from this study that may be applied to scale up or down the various power technology potential on Zia Pueblo for maximum benefit and best area(s) of application, project phasing and potential for future replicability and expansion.

Project Location

The Pueblo of Zia is located within the flood plain of the Jemez River, and the Pajarito and Jemez Plateaus in Sandoval County, New Mexico, approximately 17 miles (27 km) northwest of Bernalillo, New Mexico, and 35 miles (56 km) northwest of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Current boundaries of the Pueblo of Zia Reservation Lands ("Trust Lands") extend 242 square miles or 155,000 acres. The Zia Pueblo central village is situated alongside the Jemez River atop a mesa that provides spectacular views of the surrounding Zia Pueblo lands and outlying neighboring areas. Lands of Zia Pueblo range in elevation from 5,200 feet to over 9,000 feet and include a diverse range of pine forest, red bluffs, white mesas, extensive cattle grazing lands and clear, unimpeded sight lines in each direction from the Pueblo.

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 "Renewable Energy Development and Deployment in Indian Country" (DE-FOA-0000422) and started in June 2012.

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

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

Project Contact

Peter Pino
Tribal Administrator/Treasurer
135 Capital Square Dr.
Sandoval, NM 87053
505-867-3304 x220

Jai Lakshman
Project Manager — Native Development Associates
223 N. Guadalupe St., Suite 269
Santa Fe, NM 87501