Solar energy is helping Indian country cut costs at Tribal casinos that are burning electricity 24/7, as well as improving life on rural reservations by providing energy to areas not served by traditional means.
"Solar energy can assist tribes in overcoming many of the challenges to growth both economically and environmentally," says Peter Vogel, vice president of Wirsol Solar. "With solar, technology has finally found an answer to power rural development from commercial operations to community-residential projects and infrastructure maintenance."
Besides being able to serve communities where energy is limited or supplied by diesel and other fossil fuels, solar can not only be adapted for off-grid power, but is healthier, cleaner and definitely cheaper.
Wirsol Solar recently presented this message to California tribal governments at a meeting of the California National Indian Gaming Association (CNIGA).
“Offering cutting edge information to our industry through programs and people that provide a competitive advantage is one of the priorities of our organization,” said Lee Acebedo, executive director of CNIGA. “Our solar connection through Wirsol — the 7th leading provider of solar installments in the world—has the bonus of tailoring rural energy solutions to tribal government and residential needs from powering wells to substituting diesel power with clean solar photovoltaic.”
“Wirsol, unlike some start-up solar companies or companies learning the business at the clients’ expense, our track record includes over 10 years experience, with 7,000 plus systems installed worldwide and offices in 12 countries,” noted Vogel, adding that the companies research and development capacity with 80 plus engineers and technical specialists sets it apart in designing unique solutions.
“Reducing costs associated with tribally owned casinos means more revenues can be spent on building strong tribal governments which is what gaming in California is all about, said Acebedo, adding that tribes are just now rebounding from the economic down turn, showing a 1.45 percent growth in 2012.
Tribal gaming has been the only source of income for reservations historically shunted out of the major commercial corridors to lands lacking both resources and access to modern infrastructure—a requirement for running a business. “Having the exclusive right to engage in Las Vegas-style gambling, brought markets to our doorsteps. Locations that would be too remote to compete with other types of businesses,” explained Acebedo.
“We are conscious of our obligations as governments to ensure our enterprises are sensitive both to the resources and environment of our tribal communities and our neighbors. Solar is the better, healthier, energy source.”
According to Acebedo, one of the drawbacks to solar is the initial financing and investment, a problem the federal government has attempted to address through multiple alternative energy grants to tribal communities. Despite federal support, Acebedo claims that understanding and financing new technologies, like solar, remains a big problem for tribal governments.
Contributing to Wirsol’s worldwide presence is the ability to tap financial resources needed to undertake and finance projects of any size. “Funding solar projects is an obstacle and that’s why Wirsol has an entire department dedicated financial specialists to handle project financing,” Vogel points out.
Terry Gorton, Wirsol Director of Governmental Affairs and New Business Development, believes the innovation the company brings to alternative energy issues is important. “At Wirsol, unlike other large solar companies, no project is too big or too small. Helping rural communities to finally be able to address their energy needs is very rewarding,” she stated, noting that, “solar is a road to energy independence and that is a big thing today and will be a bigger benefit in the future."
Wirsol Solar, an associate member of CNIGA is an international solar services provider specializing in the planning, financing, installation and maintenance of photovoltaic (PV) systems of all sizes. The CNIGA associate membership program is a valuable and vital part of the organization. In addition to a host of benefits, associate members are essential to CNIGA as partners in the progress of our industry as well as securing growth for the future.
The California Nations Indian Gaming Association is a non-profit association comprised of federally recognized tribal governments dedicated to the protection of tribal sovereignty and the right of tribes to have gaming on Indian lands.