Standing Rock shines a spotlight on clean energy


January 09, 2018

“I was born and raised here. I grew up two miles down the road from where I am now.” Stephanie Yellow Hammer surveyed the landscape, taking in the beauty of her North Dakota homeland. “I’m going to live here all my life. My family is invested in the community, and we’re trying to make a change.”

Stephanie is a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe, which has been fighting for the past year to stop construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline through land they hold sacred. When she qualified to get solar through our partnership with the Tribe, she saw it as an opportunity to demonstrate the power of renewable energy and its potential for making her tribe energy sovereign.

“My daughter was part of the crew that delivered the [ReZpect Our Water] petition from Cannonball, North Dakota to Washington, DC. For us, this [solar installation] is a way to not be dependent on fossil fuels.”

Stephanie’s new solar electric system--the first on the reservation--is expected to reduce her family’s electricity bills by 80%, while also demonstrating solar’s benefits to her neighbors and community. The project was supported by equipment donations from Jinko Solar and Enphase Energy.  “As a one-income family, it’s really going to help out financially with reduced energy costs. I hope in the future more Tribal members look at solar for their home sites."

Community volunteers and students from the local tribal come together to complete the installation, receiving valuable hands-on training and education on how solar works as well as its economic and environmental benefits. “Solar power is the future of energy that’s better for the environment,” said Donnie Blevins, Jr., one of the students. “I came out this week to learn about solar so hopefully I’ll be able to install in the future.”

“Our vision and mission is to have more energy independence and less reliance on fossil fuels,” said Fawn Wasin Zi, Acting Energy & Mineral Project Manager for the Tribe’s Reservation Land Management Department. “With the recent NO DAPL protests that have been happening, Standing Rock is really at the forefront of showing other tribes that we’re not going to stand for this anymore and this is what we’re going to do about it.”

See more photos from the project here!