Forest County Potawatomi increase renewable energy use

Tribe installs locally-made solar panels on Milwaukee Administration building

The Forest County Potawatomi Community have expanded their efforts to reduce their energy use and carbon footprint with the completion of a solar panel installation on the Tribe’s Administration building in Milwaukee. The project uses American-made products and the panels, which will produce approximately 35,000 kilowatt hours of clean electricity annually, were manufactured at Milwaukee- based Helios USA, LLC.

Pieper Electric, the Milwaukee- based solar panel installer, estimates that the clean energy produced by the panels will reduce CO2 emissions by approximately 41 tons per year.

“The Potawatomi are excited to reach another milestone towards our long-standing goal of reducing our energy use and carbon footprint,” said Forest County Potawatomi Attorney General Jeff Crawford. “We are fortunate that there are companies and organizations right here in Wisconsin that helped make this project happen.”

The project was funded in part by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The Tribe also worked with local partners, WE Energies and Focus on Energy.

“With the help of Recovery Act funding, clean energy projects across the country are creating skilled jobs, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels, and saving consumers money on their energy bills,” said Ted Donat, a supervisor in DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grants Program. “Community- based renewable energy projects help Tribal Nations, such as the Forest County Potawatomi, meet their energy needs, support economic development, and improve the environment.”

The installation of the solar panels represents another step in the Potawatomi’s ongoing efforts to reduce its energy use and carbon footprint. Over the past several years, the Potawatomi have implemented a number of energy efficiency initiatives to significantly lower their energy usage and reduce their carbon emissions. Since 2007, 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.

These efficiencies have eliminated more than 13,700 tons of emitted carbon dioxide per year. That is the equivalent of the annual greenhouse gas emissions from almost 2,500 passenger vehicles, or the CO2 emissions from the electricity use of roughly 1,550 homes for one year.

The Potawatomi also purchases nearly 55 million kilowatt hours of renewable energy credits annually from certified wind-energy facilities in the United States. That is enough green energy to offset 100 percent of the electricity usage at all its facilities, including Potawatomi Bingo Casino (Milwaukee, WI) and Potawatomi Carter Casino & Hotel (Carter, WI). The Potawatomi is currently ranked number 12 on the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Top 20 Local Government list of green power purchasers and is a member of the EPA’s Green Power Partnership.