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Native Renewables receives federal grant to electrify tribal homes with solar


The deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy met Wednesday in Flagstaff with Navajo and Hopi leaders to discuss an unprecedented federal investment in solar energy for tribal homes.

The Navajo-led nonprofit Native Renewables received an 8 million dollar grant to install off-grid, battery-powered solar systems in Navajo and Hopi homes. It’s part of a $366 million clean energy package for twenty states and thirty Tribal nations announced this week by the Biden Administration.

U.S. Deputy Energy Secretary David Turk says it’s the largest federal investment in tribal energy ever made. “The fact that this one grant, this 8 million, will provide 300 homes, 300 families, with electricity, that real world impact is so humbling, it’s inspiring, and we need to do a lot more of that,” he says.

Navajo Nation President Buu Nygren adds the grant offers hope to families, “and they’re going to be able to access refrigerators, lighting, kids can be able to—instead of wondering when they’re going to study because they ran out of generators or they don’t have enough oil lamps for the fuel—they can do their homework at night and not have to worry about it.”

Chelsea Chee of Native Renewables says the grant will allow the nonprofit to expand their impact and hire more people. “It feels good that people support our work and that they’re behind us,” she says.

The U.S. Department of Energy estimates 20 percent of Navajo homes and a third of Hopi homes aren’t hooked up to electricity. Nationwide, a third of tribal homes report monthly power outages.

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