Native Americans have long venerated the wind. Now many are trying to harness a little of its power. The Lummi have joined the list of tribes studying the feasibility of generating their own energy on the reservation.
With help from a U.S. Department of Energy grant, the Lummi Tribe of Washington State has begun studying whether there is enough wind on the reservation to generate power or justify further exploration; gauging the potential wildlife impacts of a turbine or two, and how to mitigate any that do crop up; and determining how much noise a wind turbine might make, the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission announced.
The tribe has been pondering energy independence since the early ’90s, said Merle Jefferson, the tribe’s natural resources director, according to the commission’s statement.
“Considering global climate change and the need to shift energy generation from hydrocarbons to renewable sources, this study is an important step in planning for the future,” he said.
“Although the available mapping and general observations indicate that wind power generation is feasible on the Reservation, site-specific wind measurements are needed to ensure a reasonable economic return prior to making the substantial capital investments associated with installing wind turbines and associated transmission infrastructure,” the tribe’s website explains. “Numerous other factors, such as cultural, socio-economic, natural resources, noise, aesthetics, and adjacent land uses also affect the feasibility of a wind energy project on the Reservation.”
Basically they need to “determine if and at what cost wind energy development on the Reservation can help achieve the tribal goal of energy self-sufficiency,” the site said.
Three contractors have been hired to address these questions, and on-site work has begun.