US nonprofits join forces to support vulnerable Native American community in southeastern Montana

Solar Panel for Northern Cheyenne

Native American Vocational Training

Northern Cheyenne installing solar power

Solar panel built by Native Americans

Solar panel built by Native Americans

Empowered by Light and Indigenized Energy Initiative recently installed a solar power and energy storage system at a community center in North Cheyenne.

This project represents the first tribal-led solar project for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and is the first on our path to energy sovereignty.

— Kyle Alderman, Renewable Energy Manager for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe

SAN FRANCISCO, CA, UNITED STATES, May 25, 2022 / — The Muddy District Multipurpose Community Center on the North Cheyenne Reservation has received solar power and energy storage through US-based nonprofits empowered by Light (EBL) and Indigenized Energy Initiative (IEI), formerly the Covenant Tribal Solar Initiative, with support from the Kahrl family and solar modules donated by the Footprint Project.

The two organizations have installed a 10 kilowatt solar photovoltaic power system along with 19 kilowatt hours of energy storage on Muddy Hall, which is used for community events, informal gatherings and serves as a place of accommodation and support. emergency. In addition to offsetting the community’s electricity bills, the solar power system with backup energy storage ensures Muddy Hall and its adjoining fire station has a reliable supply of electricity to serve the community and enable both fire trucks to be deployed when needed.

The Cheyenne crew consisted of 11 tribal members, who received five days of hands-on solar energy training focused on calculating electrical loads, basic system design, solar safety, installing shelving and modules and energy management.

“This project represents the first tribal-led solar project for the Northern Cheyenne Tribe and is the first on our path to energy sovereignty,” said Kyle Alderman, renewable energy manager for the tribe. This project, the first official project of the Northern Cheyenne Office of Renewable Energy and the Tribe, follows a series of demonstration projects that IEI has completed on the reservation, including a 100 kW system on the roof of the Little Wolf Capitol Building.

The Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation, located in southeastern Montana, covers approximately 690 square miles and is home to approximately 5,000 Cheyennes. About one in three American Indians lives in poverty and 14% of Native American households do not have access to electricity. The Northern Cheyenne tribe has faced discriminatory prices from utility companies for decades, often paying twice the national average. It is estimated that the ground-mounted solar power system using SimpliPhi Power batteries will provide over $5,000 in annual savings on the Muddy Community Building’s electricity bills.

“This solar and storage system provides stability, essential resources and increases the value of the community center for the Muddy community,” said IEI Executive Director Otto Braided Hair. “Most importantly, it was built by Cheyenne, for Cheyenne, and serves as an inspiration for tribesmen to pursue careers in renewable energy.”

“Not only will this project reduce energy costs and increase energy security and community resilience, it is a great example of energy independence that the Northern Cheyenne and other tribes can ultimately achieve,” said Moira. Hanes, Executive Director of EBL and co. -founder.

About Empowered by Light
Empowered by Light is a US 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that empowers vulnerable communities on the front lines of climate change, wildlife loss, and environmental devastation. EBL has completed more than 50 solar and energy storage projects in nine countries, including eight in sub-Saharan Africa, 21 in Puerto Rico, 14 in the Amazon, and four for Native American communities in the United States. EBL’s projects help school-aged children study better, support wildlife conservation and protection efforts, and build more resilient communities. Visit to learn more.

About the Indigenized Energy Initiative (IEI)
Indigenized Energy Initiative (IEI) is an Indigenous-led non-profit organization that enables Native American tribes to follow a self-determined path to energy independence and sovereignty. Formed in response to the inspiring leadership of Indigenous communities in resisting fossil fuel development and pursuing clean regenerative energy systems, IEI supports a growing number of tribes in the development of long-term energy plans and projects that will maximize economic impact through job creation, energy savings and resilience. Building trust with tribes is an essential aspect of the IEI approach. With deep respect for the wisdom and values ​​of indigenous communities, IEI works alongside tribes on their journey to energy independence. Led by a diverse team of Indigenous changemakers and energy leaders who draw on decades of experience in energy, education and workforce development, IEI receives support from a growing list of partners, including the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; and founding donors, the Pazala Foundation. IEI is a project of Earth Island Institute. Visit to learn more.

Moira Hanes
Strengthened by light
+1 415-488-7031
[email protected]
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