Nisqually Tribe Takes on Solar

On September 8 the Nisqually Tribe’s Medicine Creek Enterprise Corporation (MCEC) held a ribbon cutting ceremony for its Nisqually Market Solar Project.  The project includes 146 solar panels across the market shops, convenience storefront, and gas carport. The building is located across from the Red Wind Casino on Yelm Highway.  Olympia Community Solar (OCS) organized the project working closely with the Enterprise Corporation and tribal officials.  Puget Sound Energy and the Washington Department of Commerce provided project funding.  A&R Solar of Seattle installed the panels, hiring two tribal community members to help with the project.

Tribal council members and MCEC board members, along with staff, attended the ribbon cutting.  Tribal council chair Willie Frank III thanked all of the partners involved in the project, and expressed the hope that this would be the start of the tribe’s use of renewable energy to achieve its sustainability goals and reduce cost.  This work follows a resolution by the MCEC board committing the corporation to sustainability and clean energy.

OCS president Mason Rolph noted this was the tribe’s first solar project, and was pleased that this would allow the tribe “to produce their own energy instead of paying a settler owned energy company”. Mason also noted that plans are already in the works for solar panels on the tribe’s Market Village development, about half a mile from the Nisqually Market on Yelm Highway.

Other Northwest tribes are also pursuing solar energy projects.  The Lummi Nation Housing Authority and Muckleshoot Housing Authority recently received solar grants from PSE.  South Sound Solar of Olympia is now working with the Quinault Tribe to install solar on new community buildings, part of the village relocation effort forced on the tribe due to rising sea levels.

TCAT plans to work with the Nisqually Tribe as part of our EPA environmental justice grant. 

For more information about Olympia Community Solar and their work with the Nisqually Tribe, contact Mason Rolph, .  For more information about TCAT’s environmental justice grant, contact Melinda Hughes, TCAT’s Executive Director, 

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