The Village of Solomon is one step closer to running on renewable energy after the community received a grant from GRID Alternatives to go towards an $87,000 clean energy project.

Deilah Johnson, Environmental Coordinator for the Village of Solomon, says that using solar energy in Solomon has been in the works for over a decade. She found out about the tribal fund a couple years ago through a representative from GRID.

“[GRID] told me about the accelerator fund, and he was like ‘Yeah, look into it.’ So I applied a couple years ago and it was denied. We were invited to reapply the following year, so I applied, and we ended up getting funding.”

-Deilah Johnson

Along with the Tanacross Village Council, Solomon is one of the first Alaska Native Tribes to receive funding for solar energy projects through GRID’s Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund (TSAF).

TSAF is a tribal-led initiative that provides new funding to tribes to support their renewable energy projects. This is the third year TSAF has selected grantees, but the first year that Alaska Native communities are recipients in the grant cycle.

The grant will be used to fund Solomon’s microgrid project. The proposed 7,000-Watt roof-top solar energy system will power their community building. The microgrid will take no more than a week to install, but Johnson says that this is just the beginning of Solomon’s expansion into renewable energy.

“For Solomon, this project is never-ending. This is going to be our first experience maintaining and managing a renewable energy system. We’ll be learning how to manage that, and then hopefully we’ll be able to build from it. We’re going to continue to work hard on finding funding opportunities and really advocate for Solomon.”

-Deilah Johnson

Johnson also emphasizes that this is an important step in educating the entire region about sustainable energy maintenance. She encourages other communities to look into grants and other opportunities for funding and education about renewable energy.

“This won’t be the only opportunity available … but the idea is to really implement GRID into Alaska. For other communities to look out for announcements in the future in the next couple of years. And look out for GRID being in town, say ‘hi’, and maybe learn from GRID.”

-Deilah Johnson

The Village of Solomon will host an energy summit that includes training and education opportunities for tribal representatives from the Bering Strait region once the microgrid is installed, potentially in late spring of 2021.

Image at top: GRID workers place solar panels on a public safety building in Spokane, Washington. Photo Courtesy of GRID Alternatives.

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