Warm Springs Power and Water Enterprises has been researching the possibility of developing a solar farm on the reservation.
Power and Water has worked with an experienced partner, Cypress Creek Renewables, on some of the preliminary research, keeping Tribal Council updated from time to time.
Tribal leaders met this week with Cypress Creek for a tour of the solar farms east of Bend.
The site visit was to give the tribes an idea of the potential for developing a similar solar farm, or farms on the reservation. This could be a promising renewable-energy project for the tribes, reducing reliance on fossil fuels, said Councilwoman Carina Miller.
Areas on the reservation that have been mentioned for their potential include: The flat above the former mill site, and the plateau above Greeley Heights, as two examples.
A project could involve several hundred acres. The Cypress Creek Renewables farms in Bend—called the Neff Solar Farms—total approximately 70 acres each in size.
A project on the reservation could be of similar dimension. Any potential site would go through the rigorous environmental, cultural resource and community review of the Confederated Tribes, said Jim Manion, Power and Water general manager.
The solar farms at Bend generate about 14 megawatts of energy, enough power for about 6,000 homes.
A project on the reservation would require a development partner. An incentive for the company would an energy tax credit.
As the tribes pay no such tax, there would no economic incentive for the tribes alone to pursue a project alone. With a private industry partner, though, such a project could make financial sense.
The tribes would benefit by serving as landlord.