GRID Alternatives provides Native American communities with solar energy systems

The Rexel Foundation reinforces its commitment to supporting the sustainable development of Native American communities



Project description 

The GRID Alternatives NGO helps Native American communities to equip themselves with solar installations. These systems offer them a source of clean, local, renewable energy that typically reduces energy bills for households by 75-90%, leaving them with a larger available budget that can be re-invested in supporting the community’s development. 

This initiative also provides hands-on training opportunities for tribal community members in the growing field of solar installations.


Project context 

Despite the significant solar potential of their lands, Native American communities have benefitted little from the growth of the solar industry over the past decade. In addition, the tribes’ access to energy is limited by its cost, which is too high compared to their revenues. 

Tribal families that struggle to pay their electricity bills are reliant on assistance programs largely funded by the tribe, which means that a large part of the different tribes’ resources is used to pay energy bills.  

  • A multifaceted approach for the sustainable development of tribal communities 

To counteract these difficulties, a growing number of tribes are interested in renewable energies and are looking to develop and install their own solar systems. GRID Alternatives’ National Tribal Solar Program takes a multifaceted approach to make solar implementation feasible in remote regions that are underserved by the for-profit solar industry.

These installations yield vital energy cost savings for the tribes. Each project is an opportunity to introduce the viability of solar technology to the community, to highlight solar as a career pathway, and to provide hands-on training. While working with tribal leaders on energy planning, GRID also focuses on energy use, energy efficiency, and conservation education.

In this context, the Rexel Foundation’s renewed support in 2020 has allowed the GRID Alternatives Tribal Program to install 45 kW-DC for the Eastern Agency of the Navajo Nation.


Project outcomes

The project consists of several 3 kW-DC installed in off-grid home installations, 12 3kW-DC grid-tied home systems and a 6 kW-DC grid-tied system for the administrative building of Torreon Chapter, a rural town located on Navajo land.

The grid-tied projects will provide an estimated savings of 71,873 kWh and $7,904 per year. Over the 25-year life of the installations, the grid-tied systems will generate 1,796,825 kWh and provide savings of $197,600. The clean power generated is the equivalent of 1,270 metric tons of CO2 greenhouse gas emissions avoided.

Additionally, GRID’s building activities also provide hands-on training opportunities for students who are eager to gain experience in installing solar power. GRID is working with three colleges and a local high school and about 30 students will participate in the program.


More about GRID Alternatives

GRID Alternatives is founded on the belief that equitable transition to a world powered by renewable energy must benefit everyone. It works across the United States and internationally to build community-powered solutions to foster economic and environmental justice through renewable energy.

GRID Alternatives is a certified non-profit organization based in Oakland, California, with eight affiliate offices serving all of California, Colorado, Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland and Delaware. It also has a national Tribal Program and an International Program serving Nicaragua, Nepal and Mexico.

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