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Mohegan Indian Tribe - 1995 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Mohegan Indian Tribe
Location: Uncasville, CT
Project Title: Energy Efficiency and Feasibility Study
Type of Application: Feasibility
DOE Grant Number: DE-FG48-95R810588
Project Amounts:
DOE: $154,700
Awardee: $0
Total: $154,700
Project Status: Complete  More
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: September 1995
End: September 1998

Project Description


Located in Uncasville, Connecticut, the Mohegan Tribe of Indians of Connecticut is in an area classified by EPA as ozone non-attainment. The air shed of the reservation receives trans-boundary ozone and its precursors from upwind non-Native American sources. Therefore, conservation, prevention, and mitigation of air pollution are important. Use of sustainable energy is preferred.

The present DOE-sponsored Mohegan Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Study was designed to reduce and mitigate reservation-associated air pollutants by a variety of methods, including feasibility analysis of "green development" opportunities on tribal lands.

The program was modeled after the award-winning Mohegan Pollution Prevention Program and its associated team. The Mohegan Renewable Energy Team consisted of technical experts. Later a Mohegan Green Review Team was formed to guide and independently evaluate green building strategies of architects and mechanical engineering consultants.

Goals and Objectives

A Mohegan Tribal Utility Authority was developed early in this study. It now meets the reservation's energy needs by selling electricity and natural gas. An emission inventory of point, mobile, and area sources was prepared to allow focus on opportunities for emission reduction and mitigation. A natural-gas-ready fueling station was designed and constructed. A contract to purchase natural gas from Native American tribes was developed. Energy efficiencies have been improved and include high pressure sodium vapor street lights, electronic ballasts, daylighting, energy-efficient T8 fluorescent interior lighting, variable frequency drive motors, natural gas metering/datalogging, optimization of boiler operation, and use of innovative high-output, high-efficiency ballast and lighting for parking garages.

The probability of backup diesel generator operation and associated emissions has been reduced because of revised system design and automatic system switchover to a newly installed second grid source. A power factor of 85 has been improved to more than 95 by installation of improved capacitor banks.

The teams evaluated new and traditional air emissions reduction opportunities associated with point sources and performed actual "proof of concept" demonstrations in the field. The team also developed feasibility studies to reduce and offset mobile source emissions. A major benefit of the program was development of a significant tribal awareness of potential benefits of conservation and innovative energy technologies. Scheduling of tasks has resulted from program partnering in Greenlights, Energy Star, Clean Cities, Clean States, Waste Wise, Climate, ISO, The Natural Step, LEED, and Climate Wise programs.

The background photo shows the Mohegan Sun casino from above, and insets show a statue arrangement of Indians at the casino entrance and the site of the proposed Tribal Elder housing complex on a property near the casino.

The project examined a number of alternative energy and energy conservation methods that could be incorporated into the Mohegan's casino complex in central Connecticut. The underlying motivation was to reduce ozone emissions, as Uncasville, the Mohegan reservation capital, is in an area classified by EPA as ozone non-attainment. Specific alternatives considered were: adoption of the "LEED" standard for new buildings; a hybrid HVAC system that includes photovoltaics, variable frequency drives, and ground-source heat pumps; use of compressed natural gas in casino vehicles; and possible use of fuel cells in the future.

Project Actions and Resultant Data

The final report summarized completed tasks, which were outlined in the Mohegan plan to DOE; feasibility of an innovative hybrid PV/VFD/ground-source-based heating/ventilation/air conditioning (HVAC) system; acceptance of the U.S. Green Building Council's "LEED" building rating system for guidance by the newly formed Mohegan Green Review Team; and development of a Mohegan sustainable energy conservation guidance document. Specific planned building projects likely to be influenced by these activities include the Fort Shantok Visitor Center, the Mohegan Elderly Housing Complex, Aquaculture Barn, and the Tribal Government Building.

Traffic counts and emission modeling were used to assess air emissions from mobile sources. An increase in reservation visitors and associated emissions over the three years of the Mohegan Sun operation was observed. Emission offset credits were purchased in excess of those required to compensate for the increasing emissions.

An ongoing review of alternatives to the Mohegan mobile source emission credit purchase revealed that even more environmentally beneficial mitigation linked to environmental education might be practicable. Among them are installation of energy efficient measures in residences, upgrading of taxis from gasoline to natural gas power, upgrading of the gasoline stations to include natural gas supply, promotion of green building design and construction, and reduced incineration of recyclable solid waste.

Point source emission reductions were also studied. A team of experts with specialty in renewable energy and conservation was developed. Its function was to evaluate sustainable energy technologies, explore energy conservation opportunities, and provide "proof of concept" of recommended engineering approaches. Staff in the Mohegan Utility Authority, Tribal Planning Department, and Mohegan Sun Facilities Department developed a significant awareness of potential site-specific benefits of energy conservation and technology opportunities during the course of this project. Natural gas metering and datalogging of boilers led to more energy efficient operation and accurate monitoring.

Results, Conclusions, Findings, and Recommendations

All requirements of tasks are documented as having been met or exceeded within the planned budget. Among the many results of the project and its spin-off of awareness of energy efficiency and renewable work are:

  • Development of an award-winning Integrated Pollution Prevention Team and a Sustainable Energy Team, later a Mohegan Green Building Team.

  • Development of a Mohegan Tribal Utility Authority.

  • Development of a Mohegan Tribal Housing Authority.

  • Purchase of natural gas supply for Mohegan use from other Native American tribes.

  • Development of a gasoline filling station with design provisions for future add-on of natural gas fueling capacity.

  • Providing the Mohegan Tribal Housing Authority with a unique, detailed economic and technical plan for a HVAC system at the proposed Elderly Housing Complex.

  • The proposed unique hybrid system includes use of photovoltaics, variable frequency drive, and ground source heat pumps.

  • Providing the technical support for a photovoltaic water pumping and HVAC system at Fort Shantok.

  • Purchase of State of Connecticut-certified emission offset credits and development of traffic control to mitigate emissions of reservation-associated traffic.

  • The tribe subsequently developed innovative offset mitigation methodology, a plan for a heating/ventilation/air conditioning ("HVAC") system at the proposed "Elderly Housing Complex. The proposed unique hybrid system includes use of photovoltaics, variable frequency drive, and ground source heat pumps.

  • Car pooling and bus use reduced mobile source emissions.

  • Boiler gas metering and datalogging as tools for optimum operation of boilers. This involved interns from high schools, as well as undergraduate and graduate students from five colleges.

Project Status

For current project status or additional information, contact the project contacts.

Project Contact

Mohegan Tribe of Connecticut
27 Church Lane
Uncasville, CT 06382
Telephone: (860) 848-6100