As part of its Tribal Energy Program, the U.S. Department of Energy is providing $6.5 million to various American Indian tribes for “clean energy” projects — everything from solar and wind power to fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. This being government, however, the majority of the money will not be spent on actual projects but on studies to determine if projects are even feasible.
Of the $6.5 million in grants, $3.6 million will be spent on “feasibility studies.” According to an Energy Department press release, the money will be distributed among 13 projects “to assess the technical and economic viability of developing renewable energy resources on tribal lands to generate utility-scale power or study the feasibility of installing renewable energy systems on buildings to reduce energy use by 30 percent.”
The remaining grant money will be split between “pre-construction development activities” ($1.7 million for four projects) — such as obtaining permits, developing designs, and finalizing financing — and actual installation of projects ($1.3 million for two projects). The two projects being deployed are a $1.1-million “waste gasification energy recovery facility” that converts municipal waste into electricity for the Oneida tribe of Wisconsin and a $147,000 “cordwood-fired biomass energy system” (i.e., a fireplace or wood stove) to heat the Jemez Pueblo tribe’s New Mexico visitors center. Many of the feasibility studies cost more than the projects being deployed.
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