Cornerstone Grant 2020

Yurok Tribe Uses Grant to Fund Electrification of Tribal Community Center

In 2020, with the support of its donors, the CFEBA funded a project to help Yurok Tribe, the largest federally recognized Indian Tribe in California, in its efforts to build a micro-grid that would allow the Tribe to maintain critical services and operations during extended power outages and emergencies.

The Yurok people have long inhabited lands of the Lower Klamath and Trinity Rivers, as well as along the Pacific Coast and have over 6,000 tribal members.  For more than twenty-six years, the Yurok Tribe has been working to provide basic energy services to Tribal members. Because of the remote location of the Yurok Reservation, however, grid electricity remains unavailable to many Tribe members, including over 40% of the residents living on the Upper Reservation where the micro-grid will be located, and roughly 40% of the families living in the area are below the federal poverty level.

The Tribe has adopted a three phase plan to create a micro-grid at its Tulley Creek Complex, which includes critical infrastructure such as a fire center and emergency services office. The Tulley Creek Complex faces increasingly frequent and lengthy service interruptions due largely to wildfire risk.

On December 19, 2019, the Yurok Tribe celebrated the completion of phase one of the micro-grid project, the installation of a 28 kW photovoltaic system at the Tulley Creek Transportation Building (ribbon cutting picture below) supported by a Tribal Solar Accelerator Fund Grant funded by GRID Alternatives and Wells Fargo.

Pictured: Yurok Chairman Joseph L. James, accompanied by Yurok Tribal Council, Yurok Planning & Community Development Department, and Schatz Energy Research Center celebrate the installation of a 28 Kw photovoltaic (solar panel system).(Photo: Yurok Tribe)

The CFEBA's fundraising in 2020 supported phase two of the Tribe’s micro-grid plan, the installation of a 24 kW photovoltaic system on the rooftop of the Tulley Creek Wildland Fire Center, which is a necessary component of the Tribe’s micro-grid. The Tribe will apply for federal funding from the Department of Energy to complete phase three of the micro-grid project.

Tulley Creek Transportation Building and newly installed 28 kW photovoltaic system

The Tribe’s micro-grid project was developed in partnership with the Schatz Energy Research Center of Humboldt State University, and identified in the Tribe’s Strategic Energy Action Plan.  The project is a step towards fulfilling the Tribe’s Energy Vision, to make sure all tribal members on the reservation have access to reliable, affordable, modern, cost-effective energy services.

Together we can advance the Yurok People’s access to energy, which will diminish poverty, improve Native American health and increase opportunities for educational success, as well as improve the environment.