Humboldt State University and Schatz Energy Research Center graduate students Jake Rada and Pramod Singh on site at the solar array (photo credit Kellie Brown). Photo courtesy of Blue Lake Rancheria.

Community Impact: Blue Lake Rancheria Invests in Clean Energy Self-sufficiency

BLUE LAKE, Calif. – The success of the Blue Lake Casino and  Hotel has created  significant economic opportunities for the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe. Casino revenue has provided investment capital, allowing for diversification and development of the Tribe’s economy and contributes to improving the health and environment for the region’s population. The Tribe has partnered with the State of California, academia, the federal government, and industry to install a community-scale microgrid with solar photovoltaic (PV) power and advanced energy storage as its backbone. For day-to-day activities, the microgrid provides cleaner and far less expensive power -- but in emergencies, the Tribe can disconnect from the larger grid and generate emergency power for as long as needed.

"This project is an exemplary and successful collaboration between tribal, local, state and federal entities, assertively working toward clean energy initiatives," said Jana Ganion, Energy Director for the Blue Lake Rancheria Tribe. "When the Tribe started working on climate issues, it had a primary goal of powering the Rancheria with renewable resources. With this project, we are over halfway there.”

The Tribe has added to its clean energy initiatives and has also established a food sovereignty program. The purpose of this program is to increase food security and replace shipped-in staples with locally grown products, ensuring there is enough nutritious food within the region to meet local needs, so tribal families may provide for their children. The program has reduced costs and improved the nutritional value  of food for the community.  In addition, the Tribe has an Office of Emergency Services, a certified tribal police force, and a wildland fire department to help ensure the ongoing safety of the tribal community and the surrounding region. Looking to the future, the Tribe is exploring a community water system, starting first with an emergency water treatment and storage venture.

As a result of the Tribal programs made possible by the success of their gaming operations, the Tribe is one of the largest employers in Humboldt County. Over the years, the Tribe’s gaming and other facilities have infused over $60 million into the local economy with direct and indirect economic impacts through employment and capital investments. The Tribe’s low-carbon, secure energy development, and energy efficiency work has increased the Tribe’s workforce by 10% and reduced costs of energy by $250,000 annually. In March of 2017, the Tribe surpassed $1.5 million in educational donations to the local school, student scholarships, and workforce development in the community.

The Blue Lake Rancheria consists of approximately 91 acres in far northwestern California, north of the City of Arcata, approximately five miles inland from the Pacific Coast. For more information on The Blue Lake Rancheria, visit http://bit.ly/2ssWWzb.  

 

The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act created the National Indian Gaming Commission to support tribal self-sufficiency and the integrity of Indian gaming.  The NIGC has developed four initiatives to support its mission including (1) To protect against anything that amounts to gamesmanship on the backs of tribes; (2) To stay ahead of the Technology Curve; (3) Rural outreach; and (4) To maintain a strong workforce within NIGC and with its tribal regulatory partners.  NIGC oversees the efficient regulation of 499 gaming establishments operated by 244 tribes across 28 states. The Commission’s dedication to compliance with the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act ensures the integrity of the growing $31.2 billion Indian gaming industry. To learn more, visit www.nigc.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

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