Brandy Toft: Some of our solar work was done before the plan. The Band has been installing solar heating units in low-income homes within the community since 2008, part of a program intended to help those households save money on heating bills. In 2015 we began working with the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance (RREAL) to successfully install a community solar garden across five sites to benefit low-income residents. That project eases the financial burdens of 100 Leech Lake families on energy assistance, with a yearly average of $22,000 worth of electricity produced.
Following the Solar Master Plan, we are now conducting structural integrity assessments at 30 buildings. The Band could install as many as 200 kilowatts per year once we are able to solidify our strategic plan. As the site assessments for solar PV move forward, we see a chance to expand the impact of our existing project to other families in need. Our goal is becoming more self-reliant and more sustainable, and just being better stewards for the seven generations.