The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes aim to become the first nation to have a wind farm on their land, according to the tribes’ press release.
While a number of Oklahoma tribes are developing plans to build a wind energy facility—such as the Kaw Nation, the Iowa Tribe, the Cherokee Nation and the Comanche Nation—officials of the Cheyenne-Arapaho think they will take the lead in owning its towers and turbines to harness wind energy, reported BusinessWeek.
Otis, Kansas-based West Wind Energy LLC will install the tribes’ 22 100-kilowatt turbines on tribal land located near Lucky Star Casino in Concho, Oklahoma, by the end of the first quarter of 2012, stated Scott Brantley, CEO of West Wind Energy, to BusinessWeek. The tribes’ goal is to offset fossil fuels and power all its operations with wind energy.
“We believe the wind is sacred,” said Janice Prairie Chief-Boswell, who is operating as governor out of Cheyenne and Arapaho tribal headquarters. “We are the Keepers of this Earth, so bringing the power of wind to our people is key to our survival and a part of honoring our divine instructions.”
Chester Whiteman, the tribes’ director of economic development, anticipates the move to wind energy will translate into an estimated $9.2 million in savings for the tribes over the next four decades, reported BusinessWeek. Currently, the tribes spend in excess of $200,000 a month for electricity, including generators that help power its casinos.
The wind project will provide training and create skilled labor jobs, partially funded by grants from the Tribal Employment Rights Office and Department of Education, stated the release. “This will further stimulate the tribal economy all while decreasing costs of fossil fuels,” Whiteman said.
The first two 102-foot-tall turbines will power the tribes’ smoke shop and the tribal headquarters complex, and will be built by the end of September, Brantley told BusinessWeek. The other 20 turbines will power the Concho-based Lucky Star Casino.
Collectively, the 22 turbines will generate about 2.2 megawatts of energy. Whiteman said that down the road the tribes hope to build more turbines near Clinton to power the satellite Lucky Star Casino, a hospital and other tribal operations located there.