Community Solar Project for Tribal Members on Timbisha Shoshone Reservation

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September 23, 2019
Community Development and Tribal Manager Lisa Castilone pictured with two tribal leaders

The Timbisha Shoshone Tribe is located in one of the hottest desert regions in the world, Death Valley, California. Tribal members will soon see a reduction in their energy bills, thanks to GRID’s Tribal Program and funding from Wells Fargo Foundation to support the Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund (TSAF) and a $42,278 grant. GRID is set to install five grid-tied solar electric system, totaling 32.76 kW-DC. During the summer months when the temperatures exceed well above triple digits, many elders and other tribal members retreat to the community-cooling center, leave their homes during the summer, or sadly simply endure the harsh weather conditions inside their modular or adobe homes. The savings from the solar systems will enable these homeowners to be more comfortable in their homes. GRID solar projects will include long-term labor and warranties for the equipment. 

The GRID solar training model of providing hands on job training/paid training is a wonderful model that is being replicated throughout many tribes and all other GRID offices. Many tribal reservations are remote, isolated and in locations with little or no employment opportunities. The tribal trainees who participate in GRID training program will have an opportunity to be paid $15.00 an hour for up to 60 hours of intensive hands on solar installation training. These skills are transferrable to solar companies off the reservation and other construction jobs in the private sector. 

“The Timbisha Tribe is thankful for GRID’s solar program,” said Tribal Chairman George Gholson. “It is very helpful to our people in Death Valley.” 

Since GRID launched its national tribal program in 2014 with a long-term goal of building permanent infrastructure to make solar power and job training accessible to tribal governments throughout the United States, the program has served over 730 tribal families, over 5,000 kW-DC of clean power, saving the up to 75% on electricity costs. In addition, over 600 tribal members have received solar installation training.