Forest County Potawatomi Community invests in sustainability

Tribe acquires green power for all facilities, including casinos

The Forest County Potawatomi Community announced that it has purchased enough green power to meet 100 percent of the Tribe’s electricity usage at all its facilities, including Potawatomi Bingo Casino (Milwaukee, WI) and Potawatomi Carter Casino & Hotel (Carter, WI).

The Tribe purchased Renewable Energy Credits equal to 100% of their electricity use for 2010, 2011 and 2012. With an annual purchase of nearly 55 million kilowatt-hours (kWh), the Potawatomi are able to provide green power for their operations in Forest County, Wisconsin and their gaming facilities in Milwaukee and Carter.

The green power comes from certified wind-energy facilities in the United States.

“As a people, the Potawatomi have been taught to protect the resources Mother Earth provides,” said Potawatomi Chairman Gus Frank. “Ensuring that our facilities are powered by clean, renewable resources is another way we can reduce our own impact and decrease the amount of harmful emissions that are released into our air and water from burning coal.”

The nearly 55 million kilowatt- hours (kWh) of green power purchased by the Tribe is equivalent to avoiding the carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of over 8,000 passenger vehicles per year or the amount of electricity needed to power more than 5,000 homes annually.

With their purchase of renewable energy, the Forest County Potawatomi have also become a member of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Green Power Partnership. The EPA Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program which works with leading organizations around the United States and encourages them to purchase green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with conventional electricity use.

The Forest County Potawatomi Community is one of only two tribes in the Green Power Partnership and is the only Native American tribe purchasing green power for 100 percent of its electricity use. The Forest County Potawatomi Community are also listed as No. 13 on the EPA’s Top 20 Local Government list of green power purchasers. The Forest County Potawatomi have long had a commitment to protecting natural resources and reducing the impacts of climate change. As part of that effort the Tribe, in partnership with Wisconsin Focus on Energy, conducted energy audits of the Tribe’s major energy-using facilities. Based on the results of these audits, the Tribe has been investing in projects to make its facilities more energy efficient and reduce its carbon profile.

Since implementing these efficiency measures, the Potawatomi have been able to significantly lower their energy usage and reduce their carbon emissions. In just three years, the Tribe has reduced their energy usage per gross square foot by nearly 12 percent and reduced their corresponding carbon emissions by almost 20 percent.

Some of the measures the Tribe has implemented include:

  • Conversion of the work week, facilities and operations from 5 days to 4 days.
  • Replacing incandescent lamps with CFL’s and LED light sources
  • Installing lighting system occupancy sensors, day-lighting controls and delamping multi-lamp fixtures
  • Efficient scheduling of heating- ventilating-air conditioning (HVAC) systems operations
  • Employee energy conservation efforts such as turning off lights and using computer sleep modes

In addition to these on-going efforts, the Forest County Potawatomi have already implemented several other significant energy efficiency projects. This includes an upgrade of the lighting in the parking facility at Potawatomi Bingo Casino in Milwaukee, WI. Completed in September 2010, the lighting upgrade is expected to reduce the parking facility’s annual electricity use by 73 percent and avoid approximately 1,912 tons in CO2 emissions per year.