Solar panels installed at Red Lake Government Center
BEMIDJI—Installation of solar panels on the roof of the Red Lake Government Center was completed Tuesday, May 15, and the tribe plans to start using the energy produced Friday, May 18.
The work is part of a three-phase initiative on the reservation to replace coal and other fossil fuels with solar energy in the coming years.
The solar arrays will next be installed on the other Twin Eagle building—Red Lake Nation College—followed by the three Seven Clans Casinos at Red Lake, Thief River Falls, and Warroad. Other government buildings will follow suit including all Red Lake Schools at an estimated savings of nearly $2 million per year, according to a release from the tribe.
The solar power plan is divided into three phases. The first phase consists of developing between $20 million to $30 million in solar energy equipment, as well as solar energy training for the Red Lake workforce.
Phase II will be the development of solar energy farms and will consist of 40 to 100 acres of solar panels that will provide 10 to 20 megawatts of electricity to be sold to the grid, producing a steady revenue stream for years to come, the release said.
Phase III will be the development of a solar energy plant that will produce solar equipment for the industry, while providing jobs assembling solar panels for Red Lake members.
"The development of these projects are designed to address our basic needs and understandings," Red Lake Chairman Darrell G. Seki, Sr., said in a release. "They include the preservation and conservation of our environment, providing an energy source which is compatible with our beliefs of living in harmony with nature, the diversification of our economy and investments, improving the quality of life, training for our labor force, and employment; jobs for our people."