Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Confederated Tribes of the Flathead Reservation: S&K Holding Company - 2004 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Salish and Kootenai Tribes, Confederated Tribes of the Flathead Reservation/S&K Holding Company
Location: Ronan, MT
Project Title: Flathead Reservation Renewable Energy Feasibility Study
Type of Application: Feasibility
DOE Grant Number: DE-FC36-04GO14024
Project Amounts:
DOE: $192,894
Awardee: $47,250
Total: $240,144
Project Status: Complete  More
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: April 2004
End: December 2005

Summary

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation, whose tribal lands are located in western Montana, will assess the feasibility of a commercial wind facility, possibly linked to a pumped storage hydropower project. The tribe will also examine the potential for the development of solar and biomass resources. The feasibility study will focus on analyzing, qualifying, and quantifying the opportunity for the tribe to develop, own, and operate these renewable power sources on tribal lands. The objectives of the feasibility assessment, and subsequent project development, are to maximize the economic benefits to the tribe and the awardee (S&K Holding Company), and to create employment for tribal members.

Project Description

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation, whose tribal lands are located in western Montana, will assess the feasibility of a commercial wind facility. The tribe will also examine the potential for the development of solar and biomass resources. The feasibility study will focus on analyzing, qualifying, and quantifying the opportunity for the tribe to develop, own, and operate these renewable power sources on tribal lands. The objectives of the feasibility assessment, and subsequent project development, are to maximize the economic benefits to the tribe and SKHC and to create employment for tribal members.

Objective

The specific objectives of the feasibility study are to:

  1. Assess wind, solar, biomass, and pumped-storage resources on the tribal lands.

  2. Assess the potential environmental impacts of renewable development.

  3. Assess the transmission capacity and capability of a renewable energy project.

  4. Establish economic models for tribal consideration.

  5. Define economic, cultural, and societal impacts to the tribe.

  6. Conduct, at tribal direction, discussions with power purchasers and the Rural Utility Service (RUS).

  7. Submit a final report on the activity.

Scope

The project will include the following steps:

  • Resource Assessment

    The resource assessment for wind energy will include a meteorological study utilizing a fifty-meter meteorological tower for at least one year. The data collected will be consistent with the data required for a commercially financed wind facility. The meteorologist will analyze the data and prepare a report consistent with commercial project financing requirements.

    The solar and biomass resource assessments will be conducted, and will be initially a review of the prevalent data available from literature searches, interviews with local and state experts from the universities and the university agricultural extension services and federal research facilities. Initial research results will determine the applicability of these technologies on tribal lands. SKHC will determine whether or not to proceed with development of these resources.

    The tribe's water resources will be assessed insofar as they may be used for pumped storage projects associated with a wind facility.

  • Environmental Impacts

    The potential environmental impacts from the wind assessment will focus on avian issues. The avian impact has been the most sensationalized, although now known to be minimal. Consequently, the tribe's contractor will conduct a preliminary avian assessment on the proposed site. A report will be prepared and submitted to SKHC.

    Physical cultural reviews and ethnographic studies will be conducted by experts knowledgeable in the local history and sensitive to tribal culture. A report will be prepared and delivered to SKHC.

  • Transmission Capacity

    The tribe and its contractor will work with the local utility to analyze the capabilities of the lines and to define the requirements of the utility for interconnection and to limit the costs of wheeling through the lines. Wheeling charges are a significant cost variable in marketing the energy produced from the project.

  • Economic Models

    The economic development benefits that are expected to accrue to the tribe and SKHC will be defined as the resource data is collected and analyzed and the meteorologist creates the expected output of the project. From this data, the tribe's contractor will prepare a set of economics that will lay out development options and economic benefits. The economics will be defined in project pro-formas identical to those used for project finance in the commercial markets. The models will analyze the values based on consuming the energy where it is produced (within the tribe) or selling it into the export market. The emergence of the green tags market makes selling for export more attractive and easier to accomplish than previously.

  • Economic, Cultural and Societal Impacts

    The tribe's contractor will examine project economic impacts, which will accrue in the forms of land use fees, royalties on export sales, and profits from ownership of the project. The cultural and societal benefits in the forms of increased jobs, training programs for expansion of jobs, and the resultant economic benefits will also be determined.

  • Power Purchasers

    The tribe's contractor will engage the RUS to determine their willingness to finance the project. Subsequent to that discussion, the tribe's contractor will discuss the project with the local utility to determine avoided cost and to assess the utility's interest in purchasing the energy. A key option will be the unbundling of the physical energy from its green attributes; each which will have its own market in the future.

  • Final Report

    A final report will be prepared for tribal council consideration. SKHC may, or may not, decide to complete the development of the project. The tribe's contractor will be available to complete the preconstruction development and arrange financing with the RUS should SKHC decide to proceed.

Background

In response to the tribe's overwhelming need for a comprehensive planning approach to economic development, SKHC adopted a Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) planning document, the most recent iteration of which is dated January 2002. This document establishes a comprehensive approach to economic development for the tribe. The CEDS document includes several goals. First, it indicates an interest on the part of the tribe in de-emphasizing the extractive industries in favor of promoting the beauty and scenic quality of the reservation as well as in promoting more sustainable technologies and economic development. Second, it states that economic development for the reservation alone should not be the primary goal. Rather, it states that economic development should focus on creating more economic opportunity, control and independence specifically for the tribe, through tribally owned businesses that create jobs and opportunities.

SKHC's mission and vision as contained in the CEDS document, states that its intention is to promote economic growth and self sufficiency for the tribe, through the development of sustainable businesses and industries

Project Location

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes of the Flathead Nation are located in western Montana, and include portions of Flathead, Lake, and Sanders counties. The property selected for the feasibility assessment will be located on a tribally owned parcel of land, which comprises approximately 1,300,000 acres in the aforementioned counties north of the city of Missoula and south of the city of Kalispell in northwestern Montana.

Project Status

This project is complete. See the final report (PDF 9.2 MB). Download Adobe Reader.

The project was competitively selected under the Tribal Energy Program's FY2003 solicitation, "Renewable Energy Development on Tribal Lands," and started April 2004. For more, see the October 2005 presentation (PDF 555 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

For other information, contact one of the project contacts.

Project Contact

Joe Durglo, President
S&K Holding Company
53205 Highway 93
Ronan, MT 59864
Telephone: (406) 883-4317
Facsimile: (406) 675-2363
E-mail: joedurglo@centurytel.net

Eric Simons, Consultant
Distributed Generation Systems, Inc
200 Union Boulevard, Suite 304
Lakewood, CO 80228
Telephone: (303) 531-5523
Facsimile: (303) 531-5527
E-mail: esimons@disgenonline.com