Seeking Solar Power Instead of the Grid

Project: Native Women Leaders and Advocates Promoting Energy Justice

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For many, electricity is a luxury; it can even be magical. Derrick Terry remembers the first winter when there were lights on at his grandmother’s house.

“You see the Christmas lights in the distance, it’s like seeing that unicorn,” he says. “It’s an indescribable feeling, I guess, when you first get electricity.”

Many Native Americans living on reservations live off the power grid. More than half live at or below the poverty line, and the the U.S. Department of Energy estimates that 40% of Navajos live without power. It can cost up to $50,000 to extend the power lines by one mile.

So many are turning to a much more cost effective option: Solar power. One solar panel, large enough to provide energy to a home, costs about $17,000. The maintenance and upkeep cost per month? $75.

Find the full story on NPR here.

Native American Tribal Lands Look to Renew Energy

Project: Native Women Leaders and Advocates Promoting Energy Justice

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Canyon Uranium Mine, near Red Butte.
Canyon Uranium Mine, near Red Butte.

For hundreds of years, ever since white settlers first came to the American southwest, the Indigenous peoples of the area have been systemically disenfranchised and the land stripped of its resources to provide goods, and especially energy, for the surrounding towns, cities and counties. Tribal leaders, residents and all who work and live in the area have long felt the injustices of past energy resource development on their traditional lands. From this springs the a collaboration between the National Renewable Energy Lab and the Indian Energy Policy, as they partner with Tribal Leaders and look at ways to develop renewable energy on tribal lands.

“The challenge as we make the transition to yet another energy development is to learn from the errors of the past and not to repeat them,” Clark said. “To make the transition from where we are to where we need to be will mean including more equitable resource access and economic and social development opportunities to people who have borne the brunt of this arrangement.”

You can read more about this issue here.