The Karuk Tribe, located in Northern California, has embarked on achieving clean energy goals, as well as reducing dependence on traditional grid energy through the development of multiple grid-tied solar photovoltaic (PV) systems and battery storage. The Karuk Tribe will deploy a 947- kilowatt (kW) ground-mounted solar PV system estimated to offset over 90% of the annual energy consumed at the casino and casino office trailers. The Karuk Tribe will also install solar PV systems coupled with battery backup on each of their 39 tribally owned Elder Homes. Solar PV with battery storage will solve major problems during grid outages by maintaining critical loads at the Elder Homes. Additionally, the Karuk Tribe will power a new Wellness Center with an 18-kW roof-mounted solar PV array estimated to provide a 96% energy offset. In aggregate, solar will provide for nearly 95% of the energy needs for a substantial amount of tribally owned buildings. The Tribe will save an estimated $259,658 in year one and $13,404,241 over a 30-year period.
Project Period of Performance
In 2007, the Karuk Tribe was awarded a First Steps grant from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to develop a Strategic Energy Plan and Energy Options Analysis (2008). This proposal builds off that strategic plan by implementing the production of renewable energy, which has minimal environmental impacts, low operations & maintenance costs, is dependable, and is culturally appropriate.
Through this project, the Karuk Tribe is continuing their renewable energy initiative to improve energy efficiency, reduce energy costs, and reinforce tribal sovereignty. Using solar energy to power all the facilities where the Tribe pays the electric bill will bring in vast savings toward a better quality of life for the Tribe and fund other sustainable developments and facilities for their members.
The buildings selected for solar PV system integration represent the largest energy consumers as well as the highest cost of energy properties on the Karuk Indian Reservation, making them the ideal candidates to offset using clean solar energy. They also represent 100% of tribal buildings where the Tribe pays the electricity bill. The casino and casino office trailers will be powered by the same ground-mount array.
- Tribal Casino Facility (Solar PV)—Approximately 920-kW solar PV system, ground-mounted in ideal open flat land adjacent to the facility. The expected 90% offset will achieve estimated savings of $182,210 in year 1 and $9.4 million over 30 years.
- Tribal Casino Trailer Facility (Solar PV)—Approximately 27-kW solar PV system, ground-mounted with a 180-degree azimuth for maximum production. The expected 96% offset will achieve estimated savings of $5,211 in the first year and $269,005 over 30 years.
- Tribal Elder Homes (Solar PV & Battery Storage)—Approximately 310-kW solar PV and approximately 580-kW battery storage in total for the 39 homes. Each of these roof-mounted solar PV systems will include battery storage kits sized to meet each home’s estimated electricity use. The expected 100% offset on each home will achieve total estimated savings in year one of $68,661 and collectively an estimated $3,544,464 over 30 years.
- Tribal Wellness Center (Solar PV)—Approximately 18.4-kW solar PV system, roof-mounted, facing due southeast to maximize peak loads. Expected 96% offset will drop the annual utility bill of $5,933 to $2,430, saving an estimated $3,503 in year one and an estimated $180,084 over 30 years.
The scope of work for this project consists of the design, installation, commissioning, and monitoring of three separate solar PV projects: 1) the casino and casino office ground-mount array, 2) 39 residential solar PV and battery storage systems installed on Elder Homes, and 3) the Wellness Center’s rooftop solar PV array. Structural integrity of the ground-mount sites and rooftop structures will be analyzed, and all rack-mount engineering will be completed and stamped by a structural engineer. The Tribal Council will review and approve engineering design before construction begins.
The management of this project is collaborative, and the Karuk project team will be heavily involved, from administrative through system commissioning. The team has experience using grant funds for successful deployment of various projects.
The Karuk Tribe has engaged experienced vendors for project development, analysis, estimating, and project management. The selected vendors will work in conjunction with the Karuk project team for successful deployment of this intricate project.
The Karuk Tribe is located in Happy Camp in Northern California. Happy Camp, California, is located in the heart of the Karuk Tribe’s ancestral territory, which extends along the Klamath River from Bluff Creek (near the community of Orleans in Humboldt County) through Siskiyou County and into Southern Oregon. the Karuk Tribe has developed housing divisions, health clinics, and Head Start programs in Orleans, Happy Camp, and Yreka, its three major population centers. The Karuk Tribe will install solar PV and battery storage systems at various locations on tribal lands at Yreka, Happy Camp, and Orleans.
The project was competitively selected in Fiscal Year 2022 under the DOE Office of Indian Energy’s funding opportunity announcement “Energy Technology Deployment on Tribal Lands – 2020” (DE-FOA-0002317) and started in October 2022.
The project status reports provide more information.
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