An Indian tribe from New Mexico is set to build a huge solar power generating plant that could being millions of dollars into the poverty stricken tribe. The Jemez Pueblo Indians will be using millions of dollars in federal grants and loans to finance the project. The tribe went to energy creation instead of a casino after plans for that were stopped by the government.
From News Chief, Associated Press writer Susan Montoya Bryan gives us the details of the project.
"We don't have any revenue coming in except for a little convenience store," said James Roger Madalena, a former tribal governor who now represents the pueblo in the state Legislature. "It's very critical that we become innovative, creative, that we come up with something that will last generations without having a devastating impact on the environment."
The 30-acre site where 14,850 solar panels will be set up has been selected, and after four years of arduous planning and negotiations, a contract to sell outsiders the electricity produced by the four-megawatt operation is at hand. The plant would be capable of cranking out enough electricity to power about 600 homes.
The project - which would cost about $22 million, financed through government grants, loans and tax credits - could bring in around $25 million over the next 25 years. That could help the tribe improve its antiquated drinking water system and replace the lagoons it uses to treat wastewater.
Renewable energy is a new option for bringing revenue to Indian country, where many communities are poverty-stricken and unemployment is often double the national rate. Jemez Pueblo's effort comes after the federal government in 2008 turned down a request to let it build a casino because the proposed site was too far away from the community.