Wells Fargo Awards $5 Million for Solar Energy in Tribal Communities

Wells Fargo Awards $5 Million for Solar Energy in Tribal Communities

Wells Fargo has announced a three-year, $5 million grant to GRID Alternatives in support of solar energy projects in Native communities.

Part of a five-year, $50 million initiative to address the economic, social, and environmental needs of American Indian/Alaska Native communities announced by the bank last year, the grant will support the launch of GRID Alternatives' Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund, which is aimed at catalyzing the adoption of solar energy in Native communities and expanding solar job opportunities on tribal lands. The fund is an extension of GRID Alternatives' Tribal Program, which has worked with more than forty tribes since 2010 to help them achieve their renewable energy goals while training tribal members for solar energy jobs. The new fund will focus on expanding that work and providing much-needed capital to support the development of new projects around the U.S.

"Many tribes are looking to renewable energy to address both environmental and economic challenges in their communities," said Adam Bad Wound, vice president of development for GRID Alternatives. "Access to funding is often the biggest barrier to achieving their goals, and we're excited to be able to partner with even more tribes to move their solar PV projects forward."

The Spokane Tribe in Wellpinit, Washington, will be the first to benefit from the fund, thanks to a grant designed to unlock third-party investment capital and $1 million in matching funds from the Department of Energy for a 637-kilowatt solar project. When complete, the project will provide clean power and lower energy bills for fourteen tribal buildings, including elder housing, community facilities, and tribal administrative offices.

"After a near disaster during the 2016 Cayuse Mountain Fire, the tribe now places a premium on energy self-sufficiency," said Tim Horan, executive director of the Spokane Indian Housing Authority. "We expect solar to play a big role in helping us achieve this, and the grant from the Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund was the last piece of the puzzle to make our first big project happen. We're grateful to Wells Fargo and GRID Alternatives."

(Photo credit: Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund)