Southwest Tribe Strives to Fight Poverty with Clean Energy
Casinos have long been a financial boon for Indian nations, but on the Campo Kumeyaay Reservation, just east of San Diego, tribal members have discovered that renewable energy can also be a significant source of tribal income. The tribe currently leases land on the reservation for a wind farm that provides electricity for 35,000 homes in San Diego County. Leasing reservation land is profitable for the tribe, but plans are in motion to lease more land for an even larger wind farm. This time around, members of the Campo Kumeyaay Nation will also be investors.
Renewable energy could be an excellent source of income for many Indian nations across the West, but wind and solar development is currently hampered by a lack of start-up funds. Although tribes can now receive stimulus money for renewable energy projects, tribal members are not eligible for federal tax credits, which can significantly offset the costs of renewable energy development. Two new bills, the Energy Promotion and Parity Act, and the Indian Energy Tax Act, would make it easier for tribes to develop clean energy by granting tax credits and easing some of the bureaucratic ‘red tape’ that surrounds renewable energy projects.
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