Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation - 2003 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Shoshone-Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation
Location: Owyhee, NV
Project Title: A Feasibility Study of Sustainable Renewable Distributed Generation and Energy Efficiency Technologies to Improve the Electric System on the Duck Valley Reservation
Type of Application: Feasibility
DOE Grant Number: DE-FC36-03GO13020
Project Amounts:
DOE: $150,751
Awardee: $25,000
Total: $175,751
Project Status: Complete  More
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: May 2003
End: December 2004


The Shoshone-Paiute Tribes will conduct a feasibility study to address the reliability and deliverability of the electric distribution system on the Duck Valley Reservation in Owyhee, Nevada. Secondary objectives include a reduction in energy-related expenditures by tribal businesses and households, creating jobs, and preserving the environment.

Project Description

This feasibility study will address improving the reliability of electric service on the Duck Valley Reservation, so that the Tribe's economic development initiatives can continue. The Tribe hopes also to reduce energy-related expenditures by Tribal businesses and households, create energy-related jobs, and preserve the environment on the Reservation.


The 453 square mile Duck Valley Indian Reservation, home to bands of the Shoshone and Paiute Tribes, straddles the border between Nevada and Idaho, and is situated in one of the most remote and thinly populated areas of the lower 48 states. The Reservation is home to about 1,100 people, with an unemployment rate of about 40%.

The reservation is geographically diverse, ranging from the Owyhee River Valley to high desert and mountains. Due to its high desert climate, the Reservation is blessed with high annual average solar radiation (90%+ days with sunshine in summer, ~70% days with sunshine in winter) and several areas of the Reservation experience high annual average wind speeds.

The electric distribution system that feeds the Reservation is chronically susceptible to outages, and multi-day system outages are not uncommon due to the remoteness of the lines. The main feeder line serving the Reservation is also rapidly approaching its capacity limit. Both of these factors are negatively affecting the Tribes' plans to promote economic development on the Reservation.


The primary objective of the Study is to address the reliability and deliverability of the electric distribution system on the Duck Valley Reservation so that economic development initiatives can continue to be pursued. Secondary objectives of the Study include a reduction in energy-related expenditures by Tribal businesses and households, creation of energy-related jobs on the Reservation, and preservation of the environment on the Reservation.

The Study will be conducted in two parts: Part 1 - Assessment of the Duck Valley Electric System and Part 2 - Assessment of Sustainable Renewable Distributed Generation (DG) and Energy Efficiency Technology Options.

Scope and Approach

Part 1 - Assessment of the Duck Valley Electric System

The first part of the Study is an assessment of the current electric distribution on the Reservation. In Part 1 the Project Team will:

  • Identify the sources of the reliability and deliverability problems;

  • Determine the technical and economic feasibility of potential corrective measures;

  • Discuss with Raft River Electric Cooperative and the utility commissions of Nevada and Idaho regarding how to implement corrective measures;

  • Conduct an assessment of utility bill data and other data available from RREC to determine the magnitude, hours of operation, and coincidence of electric loads on the Reservation (by location and end use) and the intensity of electricity use (e.g. kW/ft2, kWh/ft2);

  • Identify opportunities for deployment of energy efficiency or load reduction measures in buildings and other electric end use applications.

Part 2 - Assessment of Sustainable DG Technology Options

The second part of the Study is to assess a range of distributed generation technologies that are responsive to the primary objective of improving the reliability and deliverability of the electric system, support the secondary objectives discussed above, and take advantage of locally available renewable resources (i.e. solar photovoltaics, wind turbines, low head hydro generators) or will position the Tribes to establish a sustainable hydrogen-based electricity infrastructure (i.e. stationary fuel cells). Imperative to this part of the overall assessment is the establishment of a methodology to compare competing or complementary distributed generation technologies.

In Part 2, the Project Team will:

  • Screen the range of potential DG technologies — including solar photovoltaics, wind turbines, fuel cells, and low flow hydro generators — based on a set of screening criteria (availability of the resource, cost to connect electrical output to grid or end use application, commercial status of technology, ability of the system to be operated and maintained by local personnel, etc.)

  • Establish and deploy a methodology to allow a detailed comparison of the screened distributed generation technologies against each other and against the primary and secondary objectives of the Study; this will include an evaluation procedure that will assess installation and operating costs of candidate DG technologies (i.e. cost per installed kW, levelized cost per kWh), the ability of the electrical output from candidate DG system to be dispatched to provide grid support, and the degree to which candidate DG technologies provide other benefits (e.g. jobs created on the Reservation, emissions avoided, etc.);

Project team members will quantify the economic benefits that will result from deploying DG technologies assessed in the Study, including:

  • The reduction in outage hours for all electrical users on the Reservation before and after DG technology deployment;

  • The distribution system capacity that is "freed up" by energy efficiency and DG technologies, enabling other loads (i.e. new economic development initiatives) to be accommodated;

  • The operating cost savings for electrical end users; and

  • The local jobs created to install, operate, and maintain DG systems.

Project team members will also report on barriers to deploying DG technologies assessed in the Study, including the perceived threat of DG technologies to the RREC.

Project Location

The Duck Valley Reservation was established in 1877 and enlarged in 1886. The Shoshone-Paiute Tribes have retained all of the 289,820 acre land area as Tribal Trust land governed by the Tribal Council.

The Owyhee River enters the southeast corner of the reservation in Nevada and exits in Idaho to the northwest, flowing into Oregon where it meets the Snake River. The central portion of the reservation from the northern to the southern boundaries is a lowland valley, bounded on either side by rimrock plateaus and mountain ranges. Agriculture is the economic mainstay of the reservation. Short growing seasons affect production ability on the approximately 87,000 acres that are suitable for farming and irrigation. The majority of the land serves as grazing land for the cattle and horses raised by members of the Tribes.

Recreation and tourism industries are being developed to help diversify the economy. There are two major fisheries on the reservation: Sheep Creek and Mountain View Reservoirs. A third reservoir, Billy Shaw, has just been constructed. There is a tremendous diversity of waterfowl and shore birds that are attracted to the lakes and surrounding wetlands in the spring. Camping facilities are being improved to attract a greater number of visitors to these lakes for fishing, hiking, bird watching, and relaxation.

Project Status

This project is complete. For more, see the final report (PDF 1.3 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 May 2003. The November 2003 (PDF 888 KB) and October 2004 (PDF 2.9 MB) presentations provide additional information. Download Adobe Reader.

For other information, contact one of the project contacts.

Project Contact

Herman Atkins
Tribal Administrator
Shoshone Paiute Tribes of the Duck Valley Reservation
P.O. Box 219
Owyhee, Nevada 89832
Phone: 775-757-3761

Ken Schneider
250 S. 5th St.
Boise, Idaho 83702
Phone: 208-343-4635
Fax: 208-343-1858

Mark Hannifan
New West Technologies
823 S. Perry St, Ste 230
Castle Rock, CO 80104
Phone: (303) 221-7410
Fax: (303) 539-0419