Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation - 2004 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation
Location: New Town, ND
Project Title: Three Affiliated Tribes Renewable Energy Feasibility Study
Type of Application: Feasibility
DOE Grant Number: DE-FC36-04GO14022
Project Amounts:
DOE: $216,907
Awardee: $47,250
Total: $264,157
Project Status: Complete  More
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: April 2004
End: December 2005

Summary

The Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation, located on the Little Missouri River in central North Dakota, will analyze, qualify, and quantify the feasibility of developing, owning, and operating a commercial wind facility on lands selected and owned by the tribe. The tribe's goals are to maximize the economic benefits to the tribe and to create employment for tribal members, as well as to provide power for a proposed refinery and for the rest of the reservation, thereby progressing toward clean energy independence using sustainable technologies.

Project Description

The Three Affiliated Tribes of the Fort Berthold Reservation, located on the Little Missouri River in central North Dakota, will analyze, qualify, and quantify the feasibility of developing, owning, and operating a commercial wind facility on lands selected and owned by the tribe. The tribe's goals are to maximize the economic benefits to the tribe and to create employment for tribal members, as well as to provide power for a proposed refinery and for the rest of the reservation, thereby progressing toward clean energy independence using sustainable technologies.

Objective

The feasibility study will focus on analyzing, qualifying, and quantifying the opportunity for the tribe to develop, own, and operate a commercial wind facility on tribal lands. The objectives of the feasibility assessment, and the subsequent wind project development, are to maximize the economic benefits to the tribe and to create employment for tribal members. One of the specific goals the tribe wishes to achieve is an evaluation of the potential wind project in connection with the tribe's proposed clean fuels refinery in the town of Makoti. The tribe's goal is to provide power for this proposed energy intensive industrial facility, as well as provide power for the rest of the reservation thereby progressing toward clean energy independence using sustainable technologies.

Scope

The project will include the following steps:

  • Resource Assessment

    The resource assessment for wind energy will include a meteorological study utilizing a 50-meter meteorological tower for at least one year. The resource assessment may include a second meteorological tower should the 40-meter NRG tower that the tribe currently possesses be moved to a second location. 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 finance requirements.

    The solar and biomass resource assessment will be initially a review of the prevalent data available from literature searches, and 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, which will be presented to the tribe. The tribe will determine whether or not to proceed with development of these resources.

    In consultation with the tribal staff, the tribe's gas resources will be preliminarily assessed insofar as they may be used for gas-fired generation facilities associated with a wind facility on the reservation. Similarly, 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, using leading experts in the area of avian interaction with wind turbines. A report will be prepared and submitted to the tribe.

    Gas-fired generation and pumped-storage projects have unique environmental impacts that will be examined.

    Cultural studies will be conducted by experts selected jointly by the tribe and its contractor, and will be knowledgeable about local history and be sensitive to tribal culture. A report will be prepared and delivered to the tribe.

  • Transmission Capacity

    The tribe's contractor will work with the local utility to analyze the capabilities of the power 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 will be defined as the resource data is collected and analyzed and the meteorologist creates the expected output of the project. Using this data, an economic report will explain to the tribe its options for development and economic benefits. The economics will be defined in project pro-formas identical to those used for project finance in 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 the economic impacts to the tribe, 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 be reviewed by tribal officials.

  • Power Purchasers

    At the direction of the tribe, its contractor shall engage the Rural Utility Service (RUS) to determine the RUS' willingness to finance the project. Subsequent to that discussion, local utilities will be invited to discuss the project to determine avoided cost and to assess the utility's interest in purchasing the energy. Options for tribal consideration will be prepared. 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 on the feasibility assessment will be submitted to the tribe. The tribe 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 the tribe decide to proceed.

Background

This project builds upon work completed under a previous DOE grant. As part of that utility-scale wind turbine demonstration project, the tribe has collected wind data since February 2000 from a 40-meter NRG TallTower meteorological tower, located near the tribe's Four Bears Casino and will install a 60-kW wind turbine to provide power to the tribe's Four Bears Casino. By leveraging the work accomplished under the previous grant the tribe hopes to be able to cost effectively evaluate the wind potential for its entire, sizable reservation.

The tribe is currently collecting wind resource data from a 40-meter NRG Systems TallTower, installed in February 2000 in the Antelope area located approximately four miles west of Four Bears State Park and directly north of the tribe's Four Bears Casino. The tribe anticipates erecting the 50-meter tower on one of two other potential wind sites identified previously in a DOE funded study (Wind Resource for Native American Lands in North and South Dakota, October 2000). These sites will most likely be Grand Valley, three miles south of the community of Sanish, and Parshall, in the upper eastern corner of the reservation near the tribe's proposed oil and gas refinery in the town of Makoti. The tribe will also evaluate the possibility of moving the existing equipment to another location now that several years' worth of data have been collected.

Project Location

The Fort Berthold Reservation is located along the Little Missouri River in central North Dakota and occupies portions of Mountrail, McLean, Dunn, McKenzie, Mercer, and Ward Counties.

Project Status

This project is complete. See the final report (PDF 6.5 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. This project builds upon work completed under a previous DOE grant. For an interim progress report, see the October 2005 presentation (PDF 137 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

For additional information, contact one of the project contacts.

Project Contact

Terry Fredericks, Wind Energy Project Manager
Three Affiliated Tribes (Mandan, Hidatsa, and Arikara Nation)
404 Frontage Road
New Town, ND 58763-9402
Telephone: (701) 627-4828
Facsimile: (701) 627-3211
E-mail: tfredericks@mhanation.com

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