Ramona Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians - 2002 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Ramona Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians
Location: Anza, CA
Project Title: Ramona Ecotourism Cultural Resort Macro-Grid Hybrid Renewable Energy Power System Project
Type of Application: Deployment
DOE Grant Number: DE-FC36-02GO12099
Project Amounts:
DOE: $291,538
Awardee: $237,700
Total: $529,238
Project Status: See project status
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: September 2002
End: September 2004


The Ramona Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians ("Ramona Band" or "tribe") will be the first tribe to develop its entire reservation off-grid, using renewable energy as the primary power source. The tribe will purchase and install the primary components for a 65-80 kilowatt-hours per day central wind/PV/propane generator hybrid system that will power the reservation's housing, offices, ecotourism, and training businesses. The electricity is planned to be distributed through an underground mini-grid.

Project Description


The tribe's cultural and economic development strategy is to establish a highly profitable renewable energy-powered ecotourism business on their reservation. A secondary goal is to demonstrate how renewable energy power systems can be used to eliminate the environmental impact of electric grid power lines on Indian lands, National Forests, National Parks, other protected areas, and the general rural environment. Ninety percent of the electrical and thermal energy needed to power tribal housing, offices, and ecotourism and training businesses will come from wind or solar energy. Propane will be used as a back-up energy source. Revenues to support the project in the long term will come primarily from tourism and training, not energy sales. Research and fund raising for this project have been underway for three years. The hybrid system will enable the reservation and ecotourism facility to operate entirely off-grid. The Ramona project will serve as a model and an important training tool for other Native Americans.


The Ramona reservation will not be dependent on the interstate electrical grid system for power, heat, and communications. This will be accomplished using proven commercially available renewable energy and building technologies that will provide all modern conveniences and tourism amenities without using outside utility-generated electricity.

The specific tribal objectives of this proposal are:

  • To engineer, purchase, and install a 65-80 kw/hs/day wind/PV/propane generator hybrid system using tribal trainees and staff supervised by contractor and supplier personnel

  • To interface the hybrid system with the ecotourism infrastructure buildings to create a reservation micro-electricity grid

  • To develop a sustainable operations and maintenance plan that the tribe can execute with minimal outside expertise

  • To train tribal members and staff that will be responsible for long-term operations and maintenance of the system.

Data logging systems will be installed or maintained to record the critical parameters necessary to assess the technical and cost performance of the hybrid system(s) and will also systematically collect data to determine the hybrid system's impacts on tribal member's lifestyles, social activities, and business profitability. The analysis will include "lessons learned" and will determine if the hybrid system met the required electrical and thermal loads and how it affected business performance.

Project Status

This project was competitively selected under the Tribal Energy Program's FY2002 solicitation, "Renewable Energy Development on Tribal Lands," and started in September 2002. For progress updates, see the November 2003 (PDF 988 KB), October 2004 (PDF 1.8 MB and PDF 1.3 MB), and October 2006 (PDF 8.3 MB) presentations. Download Adobe Reader.

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

Project Contact

Manual Hamilton, Tribal Chairman
Ramona Band or Cahuilla Mission Indians
Tribal Headquarters
P.O. Box 391372
Anza, CA 92539
Telephone: (909) 763-4105
Fax: (909) 763-7772
Email: ramona41@gte.net

Karen Kupcha, Tribal Administrator
Kupcha and Associates
P.O. Box 1291
Yucca Valley, CA 92286
Telephone: (760) 365-1373
Fax: (760) 365-2664
Email: karen_kupcha@eee.org

Malcolm Lillywhite
Domestic Technologies, Inc.
P.O. Box 44
Evergreen, CO 80439
Telephone: (303) 674-7700
Fax: (303) 674-7772
Email: dti@domtech.com