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Native Village of Port Graham - 2012 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Port Graham, Native Village of
Location: Port Graham, AK
Project Title: Port Graham Community Building Biomass Heating Design Project
Type of Application: Development
DOE Grant Number: EE0005637
Project Amounts:
DOE: $127,640
Awardee: $182,306
Total: $309,946
Project Status: See project status
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: June 2012
End: December 2014


Port Graham Village Council (Port Graham) is the federally recognized tribal government, and along with assistance from our federally recognized tribal consortium Chugachmiut, will conduct preconstruction activities that will result in a construction-ready biomass heating system. When operational, this biomass system will provide heat to five community buildings, reducing diesel consumption by 9,600 gallons annually.  Under this project, the following will be completed: final preliminary design drawings, bid documents, permits, and fuel source agreements for a fully functioning biomass heat distribution system under remote Alaska conditions.

Once constructed, the biomass heating system will provide hot water to heat five Port Graham community buildings. The existing diesel-fired hot-water water heating equipment will be retained and used for backup. Community buildings that will be supplied with hot-water heat from the GARN boiler system include the following structures. All but one are wood structures with metal roofs and are either on wood, concrete, or concrete block foundations. These buildings are currently heated with diesel-fired, hot-water baseboard systems. The proposed biomass system displaces 80–85% of the diesel to heat these community buildings.

The Port Graham community buildings that will be heated by this system include:

  1. Old Water Plant Building, which will be converted to and called the Boiler Building
  2. Port Graham Health and Dental Clinic
  3. Port Graham Village Council Office
  4. Port Graham Corporation Office Building, which also houses the Port Graham Museum and Head Start Center
  5. Port Graham Public Safety Building.

Project Description


The community desires to maintain its cultural identity and ties, including developing means to increase its self-sufficiency. Effectively using its forest resources will provide Port Graham with greater self-sufficiency, versus its current need to import diesel.

In 2006, Port Graham was awarded funding through the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Tribal Energy Program to conduct a biomass feasibility study to analyze the biomass resource data, evaluate site selection and energy load, evaluate cogeneration technology, and determine engineering economics. From 2006 to 2009, Port Graham and its tribal members also participated in Integrated Resources Management Plans (IRMPs) for Nanwalek and Port Graham, Phase 1 and 2, with support from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs. The tribe identified and documented in these IRMPs a focus to develop renewable energy projects, and specifically biomass projects.

In October 2009, Building Tribal Energy Development Capacity for the Port Graham Biomass Project, funded by the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development, was completed. It documented the Village Council's capacity and capability to staff and manage a biomass utility business.

This phase is based on recently completed feasibility and planning studies. "The Potential for Biomass District Energy Production in Chugachmiut Communities" was prepared by the Energy and Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota, and resulted in the selected feasible biomass technology option of a GARN boiler. It will provide hot-water heat from a woody biomass fuel source that can be sustainably harvested from forestlands adjacent to the community. These forestlands are Port Graham Village Corporation and Native allotment lands.  An existing road system supplies access to the fuel source.

Project Objectives

Developing renewable heat and power is a key component of the Native Village of Port Graham's long-term vision to increase its self-sufficiency, along with its cultural and economic sustainability. Port Graham, along with its sister Native Village of Nanwalek, has successfully and methodically undertaken planning and feasibility studies to envision and move toward this vision of energy sustainability.

This project supports Port Graham's Integrated Resource Management Plan to "Respectfully utilize our natural resources to provide social and economic benefits to our people." By using the skills and capabilities of the project development team to address preconstruction requirements to construct and operate a biomass heating system, Port Graham will take a key step toward its energy vision.

Port Graham's vision is outlined in the phases below. The project, under this grant, is Phase 2, preconstruction.

  • Phase 1 – Planning and Feasibility Studies
  • Phase 2 – Preconstruction Activities
  • Phase 3 – Construction
  • Phase 4 – Operations
  • Phase 5 – Planning for Expansion
  • Phase 6 – Tribally Owned Biomass Utility

The goal of this preconstruction project is to complete the preconstruction requirements, including permitting, finalized preliminary engineering design, fuel source agreements, financing agreements, operation plan, and a business plan, and be ready to build the biomass heating system.

Project Scope

Overall project management will be provided by the Port Graham business contact, who will act to negotiate with DOE the terms of the grant agreement. The business contact will also provide on-site management in the village where the proposed biomass heating system will be located. The tribal administrator will act as a point of contact to the business contact. The technical contact will be served by a local partner.

Work teams will be developed comprised of representatives of the Port Graham Village Council, Port Graham Village Corporation, Chugachmiut, consultants/partners, and others as appropriate, to facilitate project development/preconstruction activities. These work teams will address project-specific issues such as terms of fuel source agreements, financial, construction, and operational issues, permitting, etc.

Tasks to be completed under this preconstruction project include:

  1. Develop Renewable Energy Resource Supply
  2. Finalize Preliminary Heating System Design
  3. Finalize Preliminary Project Costs
  4. Acquire Revenue Stream Agreements and Develop Financial Management Plan
  5. Acquire Site Agreements
  6. Acquire Permits
  7. Develop Business and Operating Plan.

Project Location

Port Graham Village is predominately Alutiiq heritage, and approximately 85% of the residents are Alaska Native, residing in the Native Village of Port Graham overlooking Cook Inlet in south-central Alaska. Port Graham Village, located at the southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula on the lower Cook Inlet, is only accessible by water or air. Port Graham is 30 air miles south of Homer and 200 air miles from Anchorage. It is not connected to a road system and can only be reached by boat or airplane. The community of 140 persons, primarily of Aluiiq descent, has a school, a tribal council building, a clinic, two stores, a cannery, and a Native Corporation office.

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, March 2014, and May 2015 project status reports provide more information.

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

Project Contact

Patrick Norman
First Chief – Port Graham Village Council
PO Box 5510
Port Graham, AK 99603

Charles Sink
Director, Chugachmiut
1840 Bragaw Street, Suite 110
Anchorage, Alaska 99508