U.S. Senators Tina Smith, Amy Klobuchar Announce Clean Energy Support for Three Minnesota Tribes

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Tina Smith, a member of the Senate Indian Affairs Committee, and Amy Klobuchar (both D-Minn.) announced federal funding to connect Tribal homes to clean electricity, including homes previously not connected to electricity at all. Minnesota Tribes selected for funding include Prairie Island Indian Community, Red Lake Nation and Bois Forte Band of Chippewa. The grants are made possible by President Biden’s Inflation Reduction Act, which Senators Smith and Klobuchar both supported.

“For generations, Native communities have been hurt by underinvestment and underfunding of basic infrastructure. Our transition to a clean energy economy can’t leave Indian Country behind,” said Senator Smith. “This funding gets us closer to ensuring every household in Minnesota, including on Tribal lands, have access to clean electricity.”

“This federal grant will deliver critical clean energy infrastructure improvements,” said Senator Klobuchar.“Investments into clean electricity are vital for securing the power grid in Tribal communities and bolstering the transition to renewable energy.”

“This investment in Indian Country and, specifically, the Prairie Island Indian Community, will literally help create a brighter future for our people,” said Prairie Island Tribal Council President Grant Johnson. “Achieving energy sovereignty while eliminating or offsetting all greenhouse gas emissions on Prairie Island is the goal of our net zero program. This grant will allow us to make electrification improvements to our members’ home and involve them more directly in our efforts to change our energy narrative and achieve our net zero goal.”

“We are excited and honored to have received the funding from the Biden-Harris Administration America Agenda to Electrify Homes Across Indian Country with Clean Energy. This funding will assist us in the implementation capacity to bring critical renewable energy that is reliable and affordable for our Tribal Members,” said Bois Forte Band Chairwoman Cathy Chavers. “The training of our tribal members to become certified in clean energy operations will provide future employment opportunities as we work towards our goal of providing zero emissions energy systems.”

“The funds from the Tribal Electrification Program will help the Red Lake community develop a robust planning process to coordinate energy improvements over the next five years including the following priorities: 1. Increase the reliability of the electric power grid on the reservation, 2. Reduce the environmental footprint of the community through clean energy deployment, 3. Reduce the cost of clean energy especially for those families who are most vulnerable to power shutoff and energy poverty, and 4. Grow a core group of clean power and energy conservation practitioners in the community,” said Red Lake Nation Chairman Darrell Seki. 

Native American households lack access to electricity at far higher rates than the national average. Understanding the unique challenges Tribal nations face, the Tribal Electrification Program provides not only financial assistance to Tribes for clean energy projects, but also technical assistance in applying for funding. 

Bois Forte Band will receive $295,000, Prairie Island Indian Community will receive $500,000 and Red Lake Nation will receive $600,000. 

The Tribal Electrification Program also advances the Biden-Harris administration’s Justice40 Initiative, which set the goal that 40 percent of the overall benefits of certain federal investments flow to disadvantaged communities that have been marginalized by underinvestment and overburdened by pollution, including federally-recognized Tribal Nations.