Northern Cheyenne Tribe - 2002 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Northern Cheyenne Tribe
Location: Lame Deer, MT
Project Title: Wind-Solar-Biomass Feasibility Study
Type of Application: Feasibility
DOE Grant Number: DE-FC36-02GO12100, A000
Project Amounts:
DOE: $166,712
Awardee: $41,762
Total: $208,474
Project Status: Complete  More
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: September 2002
End: September 2003


The Northern Cheyenne Indian Tribe is a Federally Recognized Sovereign Nation, located in Big Horn and Rosebud counties in southeastern Montana. The study will assess the feasibility of a commercial wind facility on lands selected and owned by the Northern Cheyenne Nation and will examine the potential for the development of solar and biomass resources located on tribal lands. The feasibility study will focus on analyzing, qualifying, and quantifying the opportunity for the Northern Cheyenne Nation to develop, own, and operate a commercial wind facility on tribal lands.

Project Description


The objectives of the feasibility assessment, and the subsequent wind project development, are to maximize the economic benefits to the tribe and to create employment for tribal members. Consultants will share renewable energy development knowledge with the tribe as a first step in fostering tribal capabilities in this area. Feasibility study objectives focus on the qualification of the selected site as a candidate for the development, financing, construction, and operation of a commercial wind energy generation facility.


The Northern Cheyenne Nation has selected a tribally owned parcel of land as the subject of the commercial wind facility feasibility assessment. The project team will conduct or create the following:

  • Wind resource assessment sufficient to obtain financing

  • Phase I avian resource assessment

  • Preliminary cultural assessment

  • Review of local transmission capabilities

  • Preliminary set of project economic projections

  • Quantification of solar and biomass resources on tribal lands

  • Options for tribal employment and economic development

  • An assessment of the local market for use or sale of the energy produced.

The Northern Cheyenne Nation shall be the sole decision maker regarding whether to follow this feasibility assessment with a development phase.

A photo of a 50-meter anemometer installed to measure wind resources on the Northern Cheyenne reservation in Lame Deer, MT.

Project Location

The Northern Cheyenne Indian Tribe is a Federally Recognized Sovereign Nation, located in Big Horn and Rosebud counties in southeastern Montana. The property selected will be located on tribal lands in Big Horn or Rosebud Counties in the State of Montana, near the community of Lame Deer.

Project Status

This project is complete. For more, see the final report (PDF 2.5 MB). Download Adobe Reader.

The project was competitively selected under the Tribal Energy Program's FY2002 solicitation, "Renewable Energy Development on Tribal Lands," and started in September 2002. The October 2002 (PDF 192 KB) and November 2003 (PDF 287 KB) presentations provide additional information. Download Adobe Reader.

The project team erected a 50-meter anemometer station October 21, 2002, on Highway 212 (see photo above), and collected hourly data thereafter. The availability of long-term wind data from an environmental assessment of the 2,250 MW Colstrip coal-fired power plant 26 miles to the north, provided for acceleration of the feasibility study. While customarily requiring one year of wind studies to qualify a site, the long-term data has made possible a correlation process that indicates an economically competitive wind site for the Montana markets. A National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) 20-meter MET tower was installed in the project area in February 2003 to provide additional assurances in the correlation process.

Through June 2003, the project effort provided the following significant information:

  1. The project location is on Tribal Trust Land, benefiting the Tribe.

  2. The wind resource is sufficient for an economic wind project.

  3. The preliminary environmental studies identified no significant impacts.

  4. The local utility has indicated cooperativeness for interconnection.

  5. Potential renewable energy power purchasers exist in the Montana market.

  6. Potential project investors have been identified.

As a result of these accomplishments, the Northern Cheyenne Tribe submitted an application under the FY2003 solicitation and was competitively selected for funding for preconstruction activities associated with a 30 MW wind facility. See the FY2003 project summary.

For other information, contact one of the project contacts.

Project Contact

Joe Little Coyote
Northern Cheyenne Tribe
P.O. Box 128
Lame Deer, MT 59043
Telephone: (406) 477-6558
Fax: (406) 477-8510

Dale Osborn, President
Distributed Generation Systems
2334 Pine Tree Lane
Evergreen, CO 80439
Telephone: (303) 674-2551
Fax: (303) 674-8185