Photovoltaic power and solar water heating have been warmly embraced by an increasingly wide demographic within the United States, including Native Americans.

American Indian groups across the country have been turning to solar energy as way to power operations and to make better use of tribal lands. According to the U.S. House of Representative's Natural Resources Committee, Native American-held territory receives enough sunlight in a year to provide for double the country's current energy consumption, an estimated annual PV output of more than 9.2 million megawatt-hours of electricity.

"When a Tribe or nation develops their resources of fossil fuels, whether coal, oil or natural gas, the resources are limited and will run out," according to the Global Energy Network Institute (GENI). "However, if a Tribe or nation develops clean, renewable sources of energy, such as its wind, solar, hydro, or geothermal potential, no matter how long or how much energy is produced, the resources will still be as plentiful as when they were first harnessed."

There are a number of unique benefits of installing solar power systems on tribal lands. Photovoltaic electricity can be sold to power companies, providing an additional revenue source for Native American groups. This can provide tribes with a steady revenue stream that can be used for completing large projects, according to GENI.

Additionally, the large tracts of space available at many reservations in western states make Native American lands ideal for the development of utility-scale photovoltaic projects, PV Insider reported. In addition, a GENI report said renewable energy sources like solar power often easily correspond with tribal beliefs about protecting the environment.

Solar Power on the Navajo Reservation

Located in the Southwestern United States, the Navajo reservation lies in one of the country's richest areas for solar power potential. In addition, many of the reservation's residents live without access to the main power grid, and remote solar energy systems are an ideal way to bring power to this population. The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA) brought power to about one third of the reservation's 30,000 estimated residents living without electricity with battery-supplemented off-grid solar energy installations, GENI reported.

"The PV systems managed by the NTUA Solar Program, unlike most residential PV systems deployed in the U.S., are the primary source of electricity for their remote and off-grid customers," according to a report from Sandia National Laboratories. "While most residential installations are installed primarily due to our nation?s current environmental conscience or to secure taxation credits, PV on the Navajo reservation is growing because ... it provides a viable technical option to providing electricity to those without it."

Paula Curtis, a single mother of six living in Canyon Diablo, an area outside of Flagstaff, Arizona, was one of the first recipients of solar power in her area when a 2-kilowatt installation was put in for her last year. Curtis's power system is one of the first off-grid photovoltaic systems installed by the Plateau Solar Project, a partnership between the Navajo nonprofit group IINA Solutions and other parties that seek to provide solar energy to residents of the Navajo reservation in Arizona and New Mexico. The Plateau Solar Project plans on providing PV panels and solar hot water systems to at least 100 Navajo elders currently living off the main power grid, the Grand Canyon Trust reported.

Another use of solar power on Navajo lands is for supplying clean water, as scientists from the University of Arizona are working with Native Americans living in more remote parts of the state to use solar power to filter and pump in clean water for those who previously needed to drive for miles to draw water from wells, according to Arizona Public Media.(SOURCE)

Responses to "Solar Power on Native American Lands"

  1. Anonymous says:

    You have the rights to Government Grants, for this resource its called NAV-creating and developing new reusable energy, and since its on your land you have the right to market and resale this energy to others, and provide it to your reservations as well. If you have problems you can contact the Pentagon to help solve the problem quickly. Go to and register as vendor, and follow the steps. And tell them at the Pentagon, that I sent you.
    Stephen Fortune

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