Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians - 2002 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians
Location: Sault Ste. Marie, MI
Project Title: Sault Tribe Wind Energy Feasibility Project
Type of Application: Feasibility
DOE Grant Number: DE-FC36-02GO12101
Project Amounts:
DOE: $167,664
Awardee: $173,105
Total: $340,769
Project Status: Complete  More
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: September 2002
End: September 2004


The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians ("the tribe") will commission a study to determine the feasibility of a wind power plant as an alternative energy source in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The study will analyze the economic and technical feasibility of a small wind power installation and a large-scale wind power plant. The study will include a wind resource assessment, transmission system analysis, engineering and conceptual designs and estimates, environmental impact, economic viability, market and regulatory analyses, and assessments. The feasibility study is intended to result in a comprehensive business plan sufficient to obtain financing for the construction, development, and operation of a wind energy plant.

Project Description


The tribe's commitment to this region includes exploring wind energy with long-term goals of:

  • Lower long-term energy costs
  • Energy self-sufficiency
  • Increased employment for tribal members
  • Becoming a significant renewable energy supplier for the region
  • Promoting non-polluting energy consistent with our tribal teachings about nature and the earth.


The feasibility study will include an economic and technical analysis of a small wind power installation and a large-scale wind power plant. Subject to the results of the feasibility study, the tribe intends to implement a wind energy project.

The economic and technical analysis will include:

  • Wind resource assessment on existing tribal lands within its seven-county service area. The wind assessment will also include review of potential sites within the tribe's service area that may have good wind potential, but may not be presently owned by the tribe. Assessment will narrow scope to sites with the best wind potential. Any existing data for the region will be used initially to narrow site options. Wind data will be collected for 12 months over a minimum of four to five sites, unless there is sufficient existing data from nearby weather stations to shorten the time frame.

  • Evaluating ability of the existing transmission system to evacuate power from the sites.

  • Development of engineering and conceptual designs, and engineering, procurement, and construction cost estimates for wind plants including cold weather issues that may affect costs.

  • Identification of environmental issues. Initial analysis on environmental issues will be conducted using existing and new data gathered during the study. A more detailed environmental impact study will be conducted later if a wind power plant is built.

  • Determination of electricity cost and assessment of economic viability. If an area is identified as having the best wind resource potential and the tribe does not presently own the land, the economic viability will include the purchase of land.

  • Review of market to purchase energy from the wind plant including green power customers, utility companies, governmental entities, etc.

Project Location

The Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians is part of the Anishnabe or Chippewa people; this culture has spread over a vast area of the Upper Great Lakes in the United States. Of the tribal members in Michigan, the majority live in the seven easternmost counties of the Upper Peninsula (Alger, Chippewa, Delta, Luce, Mackinac, Marquette, and Schoolcraft), with the largest concentrations in the cities of Sault Ste. Marie and St. Ignace. The tribe has reservation or trust lands over which it exercises governmental powers in a number of locations within the seven counties.

Project Status

This project is complete. See the final report (PDF 2.0 MB). Download Adobe Reader.

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 more information, see the October 2002 (PDF 950 KB) and November 2003 (PDF 2.9 MB) presentations. Download Adobe Reader.

For other information, contact one of the project contacts.

Project Contact

Toni Osterhout, Grants Administrator
Sault Ste. Marie Tribe
523 Ashum Street
Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
Telephone: (906) 635-6050
Fax: (906) 635-4969

Susan McCoy
Sault Ste. Marie Tribe
523 Ashum Street
Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
Telephone: (906) 635-6050
Fax: (906) 635-4969