The Seneca Nation is building energy sovereignty, and we want to support other Native communities in doing so.
Because of new legislation, Pueblos and Tribes in New Mexico have an opportunity to control and profit from renewable energy. Our Native-owned company, Seneca, is developing relationships with Pueblos and Tribes to create equitable projects that can deliver on the promise of renewable energy.
Solar energy provides a host of economic, environmental, and resilience benefits — but 50–75% of individuals and businesses can’t enjoy those benefits because they can’t put solar on their roof. The answer is community solar, which brings solar access to all through offsite installations.
Community solar requires supportive legislation and regulations. New Mexico’s new Community Solar Act has opened the door for Native communities, providing an unprecedented moment for transformation and collaboration by enabling communities to pursue energy sovereignty and increase their access to clean energy, electric bill savings, jobs, and other economic benefits.
What is community solar?
Community solar refers to offsite solar projects that generate energy for multiple customers such as individuals, businesses, nonprofits, and other groups.
Community solar customers can either buy or lease a portion of the panels in a solar installation, and they typically receive an electric bill credit for electricity generated by their share of the community solar system.
Community solar compared to other forms of solar
Native Community Solar Projects
To qualify under the New Mexico Community Solar Act, a “Native Community Solar Project” must be sited on the land of an Indian Nation, Tribe, or Pueblo and owned or operated by an Indian Nation, Tribe, or Pueblo or a Tribal entity or in partnership with a third-party entity.
Unlike other community solar projects in New Mexico, Native Community Solar Projects have much more flexibility in sizing and how the bill savings from the projects can be shared. This gives Pueblos and Tribes a distinct business advantage and an opportunity.
Energy sovereignty for Native communities
Energy sovereignty refers to the right of communities to make their own decisions about energy generation, distribution, and consumption in a way that is appropriate for them. Because energy affects everything we do, it is a critical component of community sovereignty.
The Energy Sovereignty Institute (ESI), a social initiative of the Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative (SNCC) and the Microgrid Systems Laboratory (MSL), is working to promote the benefits of decentralized energy systems and technologies for Native American communities and to advance their availability and use.
The videos at the right provide an overview of energy sovereignty and ESI’s work to ensure that Native communities have access to the most current cultural, technological, policy and regulatory, and financing resources in support of their sustainable energy goals.