By Jason Campbell, CEO Sovereign Power Inc.
Working with the Spokane Tribe of Indians and others, Sovereign Power is "building self-sustaining native nations through energy independence". Recently this exciting work was featured as a front-page story in Eastern Washington's top weekly newspaper, The Inlander.
Our vision at Sovereign Power is to attain true sovereignty by attaining self-sufficiency. Sovereign Power has been tasked with promoting self-sufficiency through energy independence for the Spokane Tribe of Indians. Our resulting mission is then to identify, leverage, and develop opportunities in the renewable energy market sector in a manner that reflects our historic culture of sustainability.
To successfully fulfill this mission, we identified capacity development opportunities in a few specific areas. Sovereign Power knew it could develop self-sufficiency through fostering relationships with industry experts that share aligned values. Through an existing partnership with Make It Right Solar and by identifying incentives in the State of Washington, we knew solar PV (photovoltaic technology) was a great place to start.
So, we identified partners for classroom training of solar PV and rooftop installation. Respectively, we chose Solar Energy International (SEI) to come to the reservation for introductory concepts in solar PV as well as battery back-up systems, and we chose GRID Alternatives for their experience in rooftop solar applications.
GRID Alternatives also has extensive experience in skilled labor force development in tribal settings. Those 8 days of classroom training by SEI and the 4 projects we deployed with GRID Alternatives created the necessary experience base for our local labor force to pass the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Entry Level exam.
The intent is to leverage those experiences and expand on education and certifications to have the appropriate resumé to compete as a market driven business both on and off the Spokane Indian Reservation.
Our approach simultaneously expands the skilled labor force, reduces unemployment, mitigates monthly utility burdens for local residents and the tribal government, moves the community toward energy resiliency, addresses climate change, mitigates rate risk, and boosts the economic multiplier effect within the reservation. That’s a pretty good day of nation building!