National Tribal Energy Summit

Sept. 23-25, 2015 | Washington, D.C.

Tribal Energy View a list of archived session videos from the Summit, including keynotes by Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, Deputy Secretary of Energy Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall and Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell. 

With sponsorship of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and in cooperation with the National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development (NCAIED), the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) hosted a National Tribal Energy Summit, Sept. 23–25, 2015, in Washington, D.C. The summit focused on energy policy priorities important to American Indian Tribes. Together, tribal and state governments, federal agencies, tribal corporations, private industry, utilities and academia explored energy development and security issues identified by tribes and DOE's Indian Country Energy and Infrastructure Working Group (ICEIWG).

Participants determined common goals and shared best practices around increased energy innovation and technology deployment on tribal lands. They examined pressing challenges tribal councils face related to energy self-sufficiency and climate preparedness, and understanding tribal leadership’s charge to promote the well-being of current and future generations.


Presentations of the sessions are indicated below.

Additional information may be obtained by emailing tribalenergy@ncsl.orgor by contacting Angela Lucas at NCSL 303-856-1512.

Plenary Sessions

Tribal Leaders/Intertribal Professionals Panel

The Office of Indian Energy (IE) issued a Request for Information soliciting feedback from tribal leaders on key issues and optimal structures for a new nationwide Intertribal collaboration focused on energy issues facing tribes, including Alaska Natives. IE plans to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement in 2016 for the Intertribal effort. In this panel, tribal energy professionals discussed past, present and future intertribal organization roles, including tribal leaders from the Indian Country Energy & Infrastructure Working Group (ICEIWG). U.S.Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz delivered the keynote address. 


  • Christopher Deschene, director, U.S. DOE Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs


  • Direlle Calica, The Affiliated Tribes of the Northwest Indians 
  • Mark Fox, chariman, Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation | Presentation
  • Sonny Adams, director of energy, NANA Regional Corporation
  • Jana Ganion, director of energy, Blue Lake Rancheria

Arctic Opportunities for Indian Country

The Arctic is leading an international innovation in climate assessment and response to vulnerabilities, effective response to rising energy costs for electricity, heating and transportation, energy efficient housing and infrastructure. In this panel, Alaska and federal officials discussed how the Arctic can help all of Indian Country tackle these critical issues.


  • Mark E. Davis, senior adviser, U.S. DOE Office of the Deputy Secretary


  • Kip Knudson,Wshington, if the Governor, state of Alaska | Presentation
  • Givey Kochanowski, Alaska program manager, U.S. DOE Office of Indian Energy | Presentation
  • Jacqualine Qataliña Schaeffer, project specialist, Energy, WHPacific, Inc. | Presentation


Track 1: Energy Policy: Strategic Initiatives, Energy Policy Issues, Emerging Opportunities

Session 1National Assessments and Tribal Actions

Assessing tribal energy resources and creating effective plans to use clean energy is one way tribes are effectively managing increasing pressure from drought, wildfires, extreme weather and other changing conditions in Indian Country. This session focused on innovative approaches for tribes to assess their interests, protect their resources and affect change in climate protection.


  • Jana Ganiondirector of energy, Blue Lake Rancheria


  • Deborah Jordan, director, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Air and Radiation | Presentation
  • Jeff Crawford, attorney general,  Forest County Potawatomi Community | Presentation

Session 2:  Inter-Tribal Network Coordination and Action (Session TBC by Chris Deschene)

Inter-tribal relationships are key to support the energy development capacity building among tribes and on tribal lands. This session brought tribal leaders together to explore the essential ingredients to a successful, national inter-tribal effort under development by the Office of Indian Energy. 


  • Sue Masten, vice-chair,  Yurok Tribe


  • Maria Dadgar, executive director, Inter Tribal Council of Arizona
  • Jerry Pardilla, director, United South and Eastern Tribes, Office if Environmental Resource Management
  • Direlle Calica, energy policy analyst, The Affiliated Tribes of the Northwest Indians
  • Colby Duren, staff attorney, National Congress of American Indians

Session 3:  Partnerships in Government-to-Government Consultation

The special relationship between tribes and the federal government is rooted in tribal sovereignty, tribal law and culture and the U.S. Constitution. Early and meaningful consultation for tribal energy and environmental projects takes place at many levels that affect site activities and energy projects. This session offered examples of how increased collaboration between federal agencies and tribes is helping to ensure that cultural, natural and other tribal resources are respected and protected.


  • Butch Blazer, deputy under secretary, Natural Resources and Evinronment, U.S. Department of Agriculture


  • Doug Shoop, deputy manager, Hanford U.S. DOE Richland Operations Office
  • Julie Smith, electricity policy analyst, U.S. DOE Office of Energy Delivery and Energy Reliability | Presentation
  • Bobby Gonzalez, U.S. tribal liaison, TransCanada


Track 2: Science & Technology: Infrastructure, Research Priorities, Technology to Market 

Session 1:  Transition to a Clean Energy Economy

Tribal lands are home to innovation in deployment of clean energy technology. This session focused on how Indian Country can identify common goals around increased energy innovation and gain access to greater efficiency, new markets and economic improvement on tribal lands.


  • Karen Wayland, deputy director, U.S. DOE Energy Policy and Systems Analysis 


  • Matt McGovern, senior adviserU.S. DOE Quadrennial Energy Review/Quadrennial Technology Review  Presentation
  • Kathie Brossemer, energy program manager, Sault Ste. Marie Tribe Presentation


Session 2:  Tribal Access to Transmission and Distributed Energy Opportunities

Transmission is essential to successful electricity projects in Indian Country, including federal hydropower allocations and understanding how to get clean energy to market. This panel also explored microgrids, distributed energy generation and storage and their potential implications on tribal resiliency and grid autonomy.


  • Tracey LeBeau, senior vice president and program manager, Transmission Infrastructure Program, Western Area Power Administration (WAPA)


  • Mark Gabriel, administrator, Western Area Power Administration (WAPA)
  • David Palumbo, deputy regional director, U.S. Bureau of Reclamation 
  • Dan Ton, program manager, U.S. DOE Office of Energy Delivery and Energy Reliability
  • Michael Pesin, deputy assistant secretary, U.S. DOE Office of Energy Delivery and Energy Reliability·       ·    

Session 3: Tech Transfers

Tribal leader are seeking funding through small set-asides in small business innovation research (SBIR) and technology transfer initiatives. Many tribes have ideal communities for testing new technologies and micro-grid controls, and thus requests DOE have been made to consider tribal communities for potential testing sites. This session examined how federal agencies manage technology programs and provide lessons learned.


  • Senator John McCoy, State of Washington 


  • Steve McMaster, deputy secretary, U.S. DOE Office of Technology Transitions Presentation
  • Sandra Begay - Campbell, principal member of the technical staffSandia National Laboratories Presentation
  • Thomas Healy, CEO and founder, Hyllion Presentation


Track 3: Economy/Regulation: Community Development, Project Development, Access to Capital

Session 1:  Navigating the Federal Tribal Energy Partnership

Targeted support and collaboration with tribes is enabling the federal government to translate Indian energy policy goals into a set of integrated actions. Leaders in the federal tribal energy partnership shared successes in fostering cooperation, communication and building better communities.


  • Kevin Washburn, assistant secretary, U.S. Department of Indian Affairs, Department Of the Interior


  • David Archambault, Jr., chairman, Standing Rock Sioux Tribe 
  • Letty Belin, senior adviser, U.S. Office of the Deputy Secretary Department of the Interior
  • Chris Deschene, director, U.S. DOE Office of Indian Energy

Session 2:  Capital Markets in the Energy Sector | Capital Attraction, Retention, Growth in Indian Country

Project finance, taxation and access to capital is critical for all phases of tribal energy. From the basics to innovations and trends, experts shared alternatives for increasing access to capital and highlighted the results from the Wednesday Special Financing session. 


  • Will Micklin, first vice president, Tlingit-Haida Nation


  • Vince Logan, U.S. Office of the Special Trustee for American Indians, U.S. Department of the Interior
  • Mark McCall, executive director, U.S. DOE Loan Programs Office
  • Bruce Valdez, executive director, Southern Ute Growth Fund
  • Steve Manydeeds, division chief, U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Indian Energy and Economic Development

Session 3: Tribal Utilities: Serving the Needs of Tribal Communities

Tribal communities are seeking new ways to expand service to tribal lands and homes, to provide more cost effective service to tribal electricity customers, and take advantage of legal, commercial, and governmental incentives for tribal enterprises. This session explored opportunities for tribal utilities to capture these benefits with the goal of improving electricity transmission and distribution services and increasing sovereignty over this essential function of tribal government. 


  • Sarai Geary, program manager, U.S. DOE Office of Indian Energy


  • Walter W. Haase, general manager, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority
  • Margie Schaff, consultant, Kanim Associates, LLC
  • Ken Johnston, tribal account executive, Bonneville Power Administration
  • Lyle Johnson, public utilities specialist, Western Area Power Administration


Track 4: Jobs and Workforce Opportunity in Energy

Session 1:  Energy Workforce Initiatives

This session highlighted best practices for working with industry to create training partnerships that advance Native American participation in community college, certificate programs, and labor unions that support employment opportunities in the energy industry in Indian Country. The session focused on how training institutes have partnered with industry to develop training curriculum in high demand energy-related jobs.


  • LaDoris "Dot" Harris, director, U.S. DOE Office of Economic Impact and Diversity


  • Natasha Campbell, senior adviser, U.S. Department of Energy
  • Randy Pacheco, dean, School of Energy, San Juan College Presentation
  • Dave Williams, CEO, Missouri River Resources Presentation
  • Tim Willink, director of tribal programs, Grid Alternatives | Presentation
  • Monica Martinez-Archuleta, Los Alamos National Laboratory


  • Representative Paulette Jordan, state of Idaho

Session 2:   Hydropower: A New Era of  Tribal Ownership and Operation

Tribal lands and water resources were appropriated throughout the last century to develop much of the nation’s hydropower system, often over the objection of the affected tribes. Many of those tribes are now negotiating to become owners and operators of these critical energy assets, and are obtaining significant revenue settlements, protecting water, fish and wildlife habitat, providing jobs and needed revenues for tribal members, and continuing to generate electricity and irrigation for local communities. Case studies from the leaders in tribal hydropower and FERC explored the successes, opportunities and challenges in hydropower generation.


  • Douglas MacCourt, senior policy adviser, U.S. DOE Office of Indian Energy


  • Brian Lipscomb, CEO, Energy Keepers. LLC Presentation
  • Jim Manion, general manager, Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs
  • Elizabeth Molloy, tribal liaison, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
  • Jodi Mitchell, CEO and general manager, Inside Passage Electric Coop


Session 3:  Housing , Efficiency and  Other Opportunities in an Expanding Energy Market

This session explored leveraging federal agency efforts to improve energy efficiency, weatherization, infrastructure and cold climate design, putting tribal members to work in the process.


  • Lizana Pierce, project manager, U.S. DOE Office of Indian Energy


  • Craig Moore, vice president, planning and development, Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority
  • David Pelunis-Messier, rural energy coordinator, Tanana Chiefs Conference
  • Charlie Opferman, division manager, Barton Malow, Forest County Potawatomi

Closing Plenary and Breakout Panel Recommendations

Tribal leaders reported to participants from each conference track to summarize the key findings and recommendations to the secretary of energy for the coming year.The Closing Plenary highlighted the success of the last few years in meeting the Department of Energy’s commitments to a strong energy future for Indian Country. U.S. Department of Energy Deputy Secretary Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall was the keynote speaker. 

Additional Resources

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