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Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation - 2003 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Indian Reservation
Location: Poplar, MT
Project Title: Fort Peck Reservation Wind Project
Type of Application: Deployment
DOE Grant Number: DE-FC36-03GO13120
Project Amounts:
DOE: $354,362
Awardee: $534,864
Total: $889,226
Project Status: Complete  More
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: September 2003
End: September 2006


Project goals are to buy, install, and operate a 660-kW wind turbine on the Fort Peck Reservation in the northeast corner of Montana. This collaborative between the tribes, Fort Peck Community College, the Foundation for the American Indian, Tribal Enterprise Community, the local school district, and Montana-Dakota Utilities will defray electricity costs through the use of wind power and use the savings to develop community and education programs, and to foster employment.

Project Description

The Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes of the Fort Peck Reservation will buy, install, and operate a Vestas V-47 660-Kilowatt wind turbine near the Fort Peck Community College, located in Poplar, Montana. The estimated 2,000,000 kilowatt hours of power generated by this turbine will be proportionately distributed between the Tribal Building, Fort Peck Community College (FPCC), and Assiniboine & Sioux Tribal Industries. Montana-Dakota Utilities is assisting us in the transmission and distribution of this power. For information on the previously conducted feasibility study, see the 1994 project.

The money saved by the Tribe will be used for building efficiency measures. The Project will also reallocate money saved by the Fort Peck Community College, and Assiniboine & Sioux (A & S) Tribal Industries, specifically to fund a much needed community sustainability program.

The Enterprise Community, Fort Peck Community College, and the Assiniboine & Sioux Tribal Industries, all located in Poplar have agreed to enter into a joint educational, training and certification program to provide the tribal industries with much-needed qualified employees. The curriculum and certifications for this training program are currently being developed. There have been several serious discussions of testing and recruitment of these potential employees. The most prolific approach that emerged from these discussions is to involve the elementary, middle and high school, as well as college students to tour and learn about all the opportunities available to them, so that they may experience the benefits of employment at A & S Tribal Industries. This approach was selected because the close-knit cultural and family values associated with Native America will integrate well with this type of mentor-intern program.

The Green Tag sales from this project will be use to maintain the turbine, as well as improve the existing infrastructure to expand the project to include additional tribal buildings, or for exporting the power to local, regional or national markets. The Green Tag sales income will also be used to study and improve the energy efficiency of the three Tribal buildings being served by our Renewable Energy Demonstration Project as well as other Tribal buildings in need of energy efficiency.


The following are general objectives specific to the Renewable Energy Development Project:

  • Lower electricity costs for the Tribal Building, Fort Peck Community College, and Assiniboine & Sioux Tribal Industries;

  • Increase employment at Assiniboine & Sioux Tribal Industries;

  • Improve economic and social development; and

  • Increase Tribal energy efficiency and self-sufficiency.

The approach to accomplished these objectives are:

  • Reallocating more than $134,000.00 previously spent for our electricity bills to training and certification programs supplying Assiniboine & Sioux Tribal Industries with employees to meet contractual obligations;

  • Establishing a Renewable Energy Learning Curriculum / Center at Fort Peck Community College which will interface with other Tribal Colleges;

  • Establishing working relationships with corporate wind energy partners and retail Green Tag customers;

  • Establishing a working relationship with the local utility company;

  • Developing a technical work force to maintain the turbine;

  • Increasing community technical skills in energy efficiency; and

  • Increasing public and national awareness of Renewal Energy on Native American Land.


The Tribal Council will purchase the Vestas V-47 660-kilowatt wind from Vestas - American Wind Turbines Inc. of Portland, Oregon. Vestas requires 20% down to order the turbine. The turbine will take approximately 4-6 months to be delivered from Denmark, which is where the turbines are built. Vestas has indicated that it is possible to expedite delivery. The Building and Trades Division of Fort Peck Community College will be building the foundation for the turbine, which is estimated to take about 2-3 weeks to install. The Building Trades Department of Fort Peck Community College will be an integral part of the foundation, turbine construction and site development. The Assiniboine & Sioux Tribal Enterprise Community will also be involved with the erection of the turbine under the direction of Vestas. A representative of the Assiniboine & Sioux Tribal Enterprise Community will serve as Construction Coordinator of the building and installation phase of the project. When funding is secure, the building division of FPCC will immediately begin to prepare the turbine site for foundation installation, including grading and leveling the site where the turbine will be located as well as possible road preparation to the site.

Simultaneously, Montana-Dakota Utilities (MDU) will begin evaluating the interconnection needs. Electric meters and transformers will be installed to step-down the power for Tribal loads and net billing equipment will be installed. Load factors for the project power are being refined on an on-going basis.

Every phase of our project will be videotaped. This video chronology will be used to create a documentary on how to plan, and implement a renewable energy demonstration project. This video will be made available for the education of other tribes and the general public. Production of this video is an in-kind contribution by the Foundation for the American Indian.

When the turbine is fully operational, testing will begin in several areas. The output will be monitored by Siemens / Vestas controls and computer equipment. This equipment will record the quality and quantity of the power for review by Montana-Dakota Utility system engineers. The data logger, which contains the sensors to gather the data concerning various functions and performance of the turbine, will be installed by Vestas as an integral part of the turbine, and tested when the turbine is on-line.

Upon completion of the construction of the turbine, Montana-Dakota Utilities will connect the turbine to the transmission lines and to the respective buildings the project will power. MDU will work closely with the Enterprise Community and this project to evaluate the commercial potential of wind energy on The Fort Peck Reservation.

Vestas – American Wind Turbines is committed to this project. To this end, Vestas is providing a warranty, which will guarantee 95% performance of the turbine, for the life of the turbine, as long as the project maintains a service contract. The first year's service contract is an in-kind contribution from Vestas. Vestas will also train tribal members in the preventive maintenance and operation of the turbine in Portland, Oregon. The Vestas service contract will cost $8,000.00 per year and the estimated annual generation of the turbine is 2,000,000 kilowatt-hours. At an average retail Green Tag price of 2.5 cents/Kwh the 660-kilowatt turbine will generate $50,000.00 in discretionary spending for the operation, maintenance and energy efficiency aspects of our Project.

Project Location

The Fort Peck Indian Reservation is located in northeastern Montana, primarily in Roosevelt County, although small portions of the Reservation lie in Valley, Daniels, and Sheridan counties. The Reservation covers 2,093,300 acres of rolling prairie, bounded on the south by the Missouri River, to the east by the Big Muddy Creek, and to the west by the Porcupine Creek. The Assiniboine & Sioux Tribes are located on the Fort Peck Reservation with the tribal headquarters in Poplar, Montana. There are an estimated 10,000 Assiniboine Sioux living on the Fort Peck Reservation.

Project Status

This project is complete. For details, see the final report (PDF 634 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

The project was competitively selected under the Tribal Energy Program's FY2003 solicitation, "Renewable Energy Development on Tribal Lands," and started September 2003. For more information, see the project status reports from November 2003 (PDF 3.0 MB), October 2004 (PDF 16.2 MB) and October 2006 (PDF 44 KB and PDF 462 KB). For information on the previously conducted feasibility study, see the 1994 project. Download Adobe Reader.

For additional information, contact one of the project contacts.

Project Contact

Walter White Tail Feather
Director, Fort Peck Tribal Energy Department
P.O. Box 606
Poplar, MT 59255
Telephone: 406-768-3413