Where other industries tried to divide and conquer, the solar industry has made friends. Standing Rock Sioux Tribe member Stephanie Yellow Hammer and her family will benefit from clean, free energy from the sun thanks to a solar electric system installed on her home last week. The project, a partnership between the tribe and national nonprofit GRID Alternatives, is the first grid-tied solar electric system to be installed on the Standing Rock reservation. It was supported by equipment donations from Jinko Solar and Enphase Energy.
“This project is a great example of what we can do as a nation to implement renewable energies into our communities,” said Standing Rock Sioux Tribal Chairman Dave Archambault II.
“Our vision and mission is to have more energy independence and less reliance on fossil fuels,” said Fawn Wasin Zi, Acting Energy & Mineral Project Manager for the Tribe’s Reservation Land Management Department. “With the recent NO DAPL protests that have been happening, Standing Rock is really at the forefront of showing other tribes that we’re not going to stand for this anymore and this is what we’re going to do about it.”
Eight volunteers from the community, including two students from the local tribal college, helped install the 6 kW-AC ground mount system. In addition to on-site training, GRID provided a safety orientation and classroom curriculum for the group on how solar works and the economic and environmental benefits of solar.
“Solar power is the future of energy that’s better for the environment,” said Donnie Blevins, Jr., one of the students. “I came out this week to learn about solar so hopefully I’ll be able to install in the future.”
“The reason why I came is for the environment, said Valerie Antelope, a community volunteer. “That’s what I’m fighting for right now is to protect our water, protect our air and our land, do what my dad told me to do, save our environment.”
The solar electric systems is expected to reduce Ms. Yellow Hammer’s electricity bills by 80%. “For us as a one-income family, it’s really going to help us out financially with reduced energy costs. I hope in the future more tribal enrolled members look at solar for their home sites.”
— Solar Builder magazine