Oklahoma Tribe Unveils Solar Energy Project


"Solar energy fits in with cultural values, economic development plans."

Associated Press, Murray Evans

An Anadarko-based American Indian tribe unveiled a solar energy project on Wednesday that tribal officials said would save it thousands of dollars and could lead to new jobs coming to southwestern Oklahoma.

The construction of the 37.5-kilowatt solar array on the roof of the Delaware Nation's complex north of Anadarko will supply 30 percent of the complex's electricity, tribal President Kerry Holton said. The solar array should be finished by next month and a sign already hangs outside the headquarters building that reads "These buildings are powered by the sun."

To pay for the project, the Delaware Nation received a $250,000 federal grant from stimulus funds and Holton said the tribe matched that amount. He said the tribe will recoup its costs within five to eight years.

The tribe also has started manufacturing LED lights at a plant in Anadarko and could branch out into assembling modules for solar arrays in the near future, Holton said.

"Green technology is the wave of the future and it certainly fits in with our culture. We might as well embrace that and make it a part of our economic development," Holton said.

Kylah McNabb, a renewable energy specialist with the Oklahoma Department of Commerce, worked with the Delaware Nation on obtaining the grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. McNabb said it's thought to be the first major solar energy project started by a state-based tribe.

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