Solar Energy Non-Profits Join Forces to Build the First and Largest Solar Energy Farm in North Dakota at Standing Rock Reservation
Representing 50% of the State’s Solar Power, the Solar Farm Connects the Sioux Nation’s Ancient Knowledge with New Technologies to Ensure Long-Term Self-Sustainability
GivePower, a non-profit organization that provides solar energy solutions to developing regions that need it most, led the effort to build the CannonBall Community Solar Farm in partnership with Empowered by Light, a non-profit focused on solar micro grids for developing communities. Located three miles from the Dakota Access Pipeline and on the Standing Rock Indian Reservation in CannonBall, North Dakota, the 300 kilowatt solar farm is a demonstration of the Sioux Nation Tribe's long history of advocacy for the sovereignty of their land, renewable energy sources and environmental justice. Additional project partners include Indigenized Energy, which promotes renewable energy within the Sioux Nation, Jinko Solar, a commercial solar panel manufacturer and the Wallace Global Fund, a private foundation supporting engaged citizenry.
Despite its expansive landscape conducive to solar energy generation and high poverty areas that desperately need to cut costs and create jobs, North Dakota is ranked last in U.S. solar production and has just three local solar installers. The CannonBall Community Solar Farm went live in February of this year and already represents half the total solar energy being generated across the state. Currently, the farm powers a Sioux Nation Community Center and Veterans Memorial Building and has a projected cost savings of $7,000 - $10,000 annually, which is being put directly back into the community.
The project cost was $470,000. GivePower made a $370,000 investment, and Empowered by Light secured a $100,000 grant from the Wallace Global Fund and 1,000 solar panels were donated by Jinko Solar.
"Our mission of indigenizing energy is about merging the cultural values and wisdom passed down to us with new technologies to establish a sustainable platform that not only helps us live better lives today, but also ensures our footprint over the next several centuries is a positive one," said Cody TwoBears, Standing Rock project leader for GivePower and the founder and executive director of Indigenized Energy. "We're excited to share this fast-growing solar farm with the world, as it pays tribute to everyone who's come to Standing Rock and all their hard work and tireless dedication toward protecting our people and land."
"Sioux Nation has inspired us with their leadership for native rights issues, and the CannonBall Community Solar Farm is a testament to the tribe's steadfast commitment to going beyond protesting and actually inciting real change," said Hayes Barnard, President of GivePower. "It's an honor to unite with other great organizations to serve as allies in Sioux Nation's ongoing fight to preserve their land with renewable energy projects that generate revenue and support their cultural youth programs."
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a leading supporter of Sioux Nation's commitment to the environment said, "The CannonBall Community Solar Farm is the result of a coalition of Native American leaders, military veterans, environmental groups and sustainability-minded business interests coming together around a common vision of citizenship and stewardship of our precious natural resources."
Phase two of the CannonBall Community Solar Farm will include navigating regulations to install 100 kW of solar infrastructure, donated by GivePower, on U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)-owned homes, placing additional solar infrastructure on schools and other public buildings, and expanding training programs. Rather than continuing to outsource the building and maintenance of their solar energy, the Sioux Nation Tribe is empowering their people by training them for energy-based jobs and ensuring their youth are actively involved and invested in all sustainable energy initiatives.
A kick-off celebration for the CannonBall Community Solar Farm will take place on July 26, 2019 in CannonBall, North Dakota. Speakers may include personalities such as Frances Fisher, Tulsi Gabbard, Naomi Klein, Megan Smith and Shailene Woodley. A private tour of Standing Rock will also take place on July 27 for event participants. For more information on the project and to donate to this solar initiative, please visit https://pages.donately.com/givepower/campaign/givepower-power-for-standing-rock.
GivePower is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to extending the environmental and social benefits of clean, renewable energy across the world. GivePower uses solar energy and storage technologies to deliver the most essential community services to the developing world. GivePower has helped power some of the economically poorest countries, including communities across more than a dozen countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Visit GivePower at www.givepower.org and follow the organization on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
About Empowered by Light
Empowered by Light is a 501©3 non-profit focused on improving lives and the environment using renewable energy technologies. It helps empower developing or disadvantaged communities using solar and energy storage solutions. Since 2011, the organization has developed solar projects in seven countries, helping school-age children study better and longer, and powering conservation centers, ranger stations and indigenous communities in ecologically sensitive areas of the world. For more information about Empowered by Light, visit https://www.empoweredbylight.org/
About Jinko Solar
Jinko Solar (NYSE: JKS) is a global leader in the solar industry. The Company distributes its solar products and sells its solutions and services to a diversified international utility, commercial and residential customer base in China, the United States, Japan, Germany, the United Kingdom, Chile, South Africa, India, Mexico, Brazil, the United Arab Emirates, Italy, Spain, France, Belgium, and other countries and regions.
About Wallace Global Fund
The Wallace Global Fund is dedicated to Henry A. Wallace's progressive legacy of empowering what he called the "common man" against the moneyed elites in the struggle for control of government and the planet's precious resources. Reflecting that legacy, the Fund's principal priorities are to defend a liveable climate and strengthen democracy, both threatened by corporate interests. Wallace Global Fund is a leading supporter of the movement calling for fossil fuel divestment and investment in sustainable, just, and reliable sources of energy. The Fund awarded the inaugural Henry A. Wallace Award in 2017 to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe for their courageous activism in defending their sacred territories against the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Fund is also supporting renewable energy projects developed by the Tribe.