by Lacey Gaechter, National Director
A wonderful group of students came out for last week’s Solar Electric Training at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. We had two repeat trainees, both of whom are in the process of starting their own renewable energy business: Leo White Bear, owner of Off the Grid, and Kale Means, budding proprietor of Indigenous Renewable Energy.
Since Leo Bear left his internship with Lakota Solar Enterprises, I have missed him so much, and it was great to visit with him again and to hear that he is doing so well back home in Idaho. Leo says of this course, “It will have a big impact for my renewable energy business!”
This course represents the Tribal Renewable Energy Program’s first “Trainer in Residence” project, featuring guest instructor Jeff Tobe of Solar Energy International. Thanks to a grant from the Department of Energy, Jeff was able to spend one week at the Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center co-hosting this training with Henry Red Cloud. Solar Energy International’s ultimate objective was actually to propagate skilled instructors for future solar electric courses, so this was a training for the trainer (Henry Red Cloud) as well.
Thanks to Trees, Water & People’s donors, including a very generous grant from the Arntz Family Foundation, we were also able to offer this training opportunity to seven students from the Shoshone Bannock, Oglala Lakota, Cheyenne River Sioux, and Northern Cheyenne tribes. The 2 kilowatt photovoltaic array was donated by Namasté Solar, which allowed us to offer scholarships to all seven students. In addition, we are also happy to contribute free, clean electricity to the KILI Radio Station in Pine Ridge, South Dakota. KILI is “the Voice of the Lakota Nation,” and is listened to online by tribal people throughout the contiguous United States and Alaska.
Thank you to everyone who helped make this training a success!