||The Lummi Nation: Pursuing Clean Renewable Energy
The Lummi Nation has launched a number of renewable energy projects to reduce its environmental impact and to contribute to its goal of energy self-sufficiency. These projects include conducting a wind energy development feasibility assessment, lighting a walking trail with solar LEDs, installing a geothermal heat pump system for a new administrative building, and developing a strategic energy plan to coordinate future efforts.
The Lummi Indian Reservation is located in northwest Washington, 20 miles south of the Canadian border
and 90 miles north of Seattle. There are approximately 4,200 enrolled tribal members, including about 2,400
tribal members who live on the Reservation. This profile provides detailed information on the wind energy
development feasibility assessment project and also examines the opportunities and motivation that inspired
the Lummi Nation to explore the options for renewable energy on their tribal lands.
Wind Energy Project
In 1993, the Lummi Nation established a goal of energy self-sufficiency as a means to address the lack of a
tribal power utility (Lummi Nation Presentation 2010). After being approached by wind farm developers for a
number of years, the Lummi Nation initiated a process to explore the potential to develop wind power on
In 2002, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) completed a wind power assessment and mapped the
results for the entire country. This nationwide assessment indicated that on the Lummi Reservation there
are "fair" (Class 3) wind conditions, but the data were not sufficient to make substantial capital
investments (Lummi Nation Presentation 2010). To provide the information necessary to make an informed decision,
the Water Resources Division of the Lummi Natural Resources Department launched an assessment in 2009 to better
quantify the feasibility of wind power. This assessment, titled the Lummi Nation Wind Energy Development
Feasibility Assessment, is funded through a competitive grant from the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE)
Tribal Energy Program (DOE Tribal Energy Program).
The assessment is intended to determine if and at what cost wind energy development on the Reservation can
help achieve the tribal goal of energy self-sufficiency (Lummi Nation website).
To conduct the study, the tribe used the DOE grant funding to hire consultants to examine the following issues:
- Is there enough wind on the Reservation to justify further pursuit of developing wind generation capabilities on the Reservation?
- What are the likely wildlife impacts associated with installing one or more wind turbines on the Reservation and what are practicable mitigation measures if there are unavoidable impacts?
- What are the likely noise impacts associated with installing one or more wind turbines on the Reservation and what are practicable mitigation measures if there are unavoidable impacts?
The consultant selected
to conduct the wind energy assessment for the feasibility study, DNV Renewables (USA) Inc., performed a site
survey and in consultation with the Lummi Nation installed two 50-60 meter anemometer stations to measure
wind speed and direction for one year. These stations, installed in December 2010 and February 2011, will
record data until March 2012. The collected data will be compared with wind data collected at nearby
meteorological stations that have longer records. These data will be used with information about different
wind turbine designs to assess the suitability of the wind resources on the Reservation and help the Lummi
Nation to decide if there are sufficient wind resources to make wind power viable.
The Lummi Nation purchased the 60-meter anemometer tower and borrowed the 50-meter anemometer station through
the NREL Native American Anemometer Loan Program. The NREL program loans anemometers and the equipment needed
for installation to measure the wind resource on tribal lands (Native American Anemometer Loan Program).
The wildlife impact assessment will be conducted by Hammer Environmental in spring and summer 2011 and will
take into account the migratory paths of potentially impacted wildlife. Species of particular concern on the
Lummi Reservation are bats and marbled murrelets, as well as water fowl and other wildlife that are important
to the Lummi way of life.
The third assessment will take place during the spring and summer of 2011 and gauge potential noise impacts
that may arise from installing wind turbines. This assessment will be conducted by J.C. Brennan & Associates,
and is meant to ensure that operating the turbines will not adversely impact residents and neighbors of the Lummi
Reservation. (Lummi Nation Presentation 2010).
Since beginning this project in 2009, the Lummi have learned key lessons about wind energy development
feasibility assessments. In October 2010, Jeremy Freimund, Lummi Nation Water Resource Manager, presented
some of these ideas, summarized below, at a DOE Tribal Energy Program Review.
Estimating Costs for the Feasibility Study
Developing a competitive grant proposal requires understanding the costs associated with a feasibility
assessment. To that end, the Lummi recommend getting more than one price quote from contractors or asking other
tribes that have conducted wind energy feasibility assessments. Also, budgeting for staff costs is recommended,
as it requires significant time and effort to conduct tasks like posting requests for proposals, negotiating
and meeting with contractors, and conducting site visits. Finally, determining costs for elements like the
wildlife assessment are best accomplished by seeking estimates for similar projects. The Lummi recommend
selecting wildlife and noise contractors who have specialized expertise in evaluating wind energy projects,
and also to conduct these analyses at the same time as the wind study.
Fostering Partnerships and Collaboration
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Department of Energy’s Tribal Energy Program have provided
significant technical resources and grant funding to assist the Lummi Nation in conducting the feasibility
study. The Lummi Nation has also made many useful contacts by participating in the Tribal Energy Program
Review and other workshops.
Other Renewable Energy Projects
The Lummi Nation has installed two miles of solar lighting for the Haxton Way Pedestrian Pathway. The project was initiated by a need to increase trail security and usefulness after dark, while preserving the integrity of the natural environment (Solar Daily). Completed in 2010, the project was organized through the Lummi Planning Department, and conducted in conjunction with the Federal Lands Highway Department and the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (Solar Daily).
The pathway stretches across environmentally sensitive wetlands that are home to a variety of different
animals. In order to protect the species in the wetland, the Lummi Nation installed an ecosystem-sensitive
technology offered by EverGEN. The system "operates in accordance with International Dark Sky
Association (IDA) Guidelines, which recommend limiting light trespass or 'sky glow' to help protect nocturnal
ecosystems and nocturnal wildlife" (Solar Daily).
Geothermal Heat Pumps
The Lummi Nation is also working to lessen its environmental impact, its energy demands, and its long-term
energy costs by using geothermal energy. As part of the construction of the new tribal administrative
building, the Lummi Nation Planning Department is in the process of installing a geothermal heat pump
system in accordance with IGSHPA guidelines.
Geothermal heat pumps work by using the earth as a heat source in the winter and a heat sink during the
summer. They do not require burning any type of fuel; instead loops are installed below the surface of
the ground and throughout the building, and a fluid is circulated through the loop, carrying heat into
or out of a building (Energy Savers).
In July 2010, Geo-Energy Services began designing a borefield for the Lummi Nation's new Administrative
building. A borefield is an area that contains the boreholes or wells through which the closed loops of
a geo-thermal heat pump circulate fluids that either dissipate cooler or warmer building temperatures
depending on the season. The project will require approximately 120 boreholes that average 350 feet deep
and are tied together by a horizontal loop system that terminates in an underground vault (Geo-Energy
As of April 2011, all 120 boreholes were complete. The installation of the horizontal loop system is under
way and the in-ground work should be completed by June 1, 2011, with termination of the system at an
underground vault. The General Contractor will then complete the system in the building and the system will
become operational. The Geothermal system will regulate air temperature, and is expected to reduce the
cost of heating and cooling the building by 50% (Lummi Communications).
Strategic Energy Plan
In order to document and monitor their goal of shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy, the Lummi
Nation is also developing a Strategic Energy Plan with grant funding from the U.S. Environmental
Protection Agency’s (EPA) Indian General Assistance Program. The plan will formally evaluate the current
demand and supply for power, projected future demands, potential alternatives for supplies, and
potential for energy conservation. After the evaluation, the Lummi Nation will establish community
objectives (e.g., reducing energy levels by 20% by 2015), and develop an action plan.
||Solar Lighting and Geothermal Heat Pump
||Lummi Nation Planning Department Director
||Wind Energy/Strategic Energy Plan
||Lummi Nation Natural Resources Department Director
||Wind Energy/Strategic Energy Plan
||Lummi Nation Water Resources Division Manager
||Geothermal Heat Pump
||Lummi Nation Planning Department Construction Manager
||Solar Lighting for Pedestrian Pathway
||Lummi Nation Tribal Transportation Officer
Related Government Programs
|Native American Anemometer Loan Program
||Jointly organized by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Department of Energy’s Wind Powering America Initiative
||The Native American Anemometer Loan Program is part of an effort to promote the installation of wind turbines on Native American lands. NREL and the Western Area Power Administration (WAPA) jointly administer the program as part of the U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Powering America Initiative. The program allows Native American tribes to borrow anemometers and the equipment needed for installation so that they may measure the wind resource on tribal lands.
||www.windpowering america.gov/ nativeamericans/ anemometer_loan.asp
|Tribal Project Assistance
||National Renewable Energy Laboratory
||NREL helps tribes develop and implement sustainable energy strategies with technical expertise and capabilities that support renewable energy technology deployment projects
||www.nrel.gov/ applying_technologies/ tribal.html
|Wind Powering America
||U.S. Department of Energy
||A nationwide initiative designed to increase the use of wind energy across the United States by working with regional stakeholders
|Tribal Energy Program
||U.S. Department of Energy
||Promotes tribal energy sufficiency and fosters economic development and employment on tribal lands through the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies
||http://apps1.eere. energy.gov/ tribalenergy/
|Indian General Assistance Program
||U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
||Provides General Assistance Program (GAP) grants to federally-recognized tribes and tribal consortia for planning, developing, and establishing environmental protection programs in Indian country, as well as for developing and implementing solid and hazardous waste programs on tribal lands.
||U.S. Department of transportation, Federal Highway Administration, Office of Federal Lands Highway
||Provides program stewardship and transportation engineering services for planning, design, construction, and rehabilitation of the highways and bridges that provide access to and through federally owned lands
||Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board
||Provide transparency of 2009 Recovery and Reinvestment Act-related funds and prevents and detects fraud, waste, and mismanagement
||www.recovery.gov/ About/ board/ Pages/ TheBoard.aspx
Tribal Climate Change Profile Project:
The University of Oregon and the USDA Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station are developing tribal
climate change project profiles as a pathway to increasing knowledge among tribal and non-tribal organizations
interested in learning about climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts. Each profile is intended to
illustrate innovative approaches to addressing climate change challenges and will describe the successes and
lessons learned associated with planning and implementation. For more information about the initiative, visit: