Seneca Nation Leaders of Renewables, by Danny Resch
The Seneca Nation of Indians have always respected and relied on their land. They continue to hunt and fish in the wilderness, run and play on Lacrosse fields, and grow vegetables they call Deohako, “the life supporters.” More recently they have been powering their lives with clean renewable energy. They are people proud of the cultural, educational, and economic efforts they take to preserve their great heritage and beautiful homeland. The Nation of nearly 8,000 citizens has recently taken steps to continue this preservation work, a process SunCommon NY was happy to help guide.
Working with momentum from their 1.5 megawatt (MW) wind turbine, completed in 2016, the Seneca Nation recently energized a new 1.9 MW solar array on 11 acres that move them even closer to energy independence and a cleaner environment for all. The Seneca Nation of Indians is showing New York residents how communities with rich traditions and living culture can be strengthened further with the help of renewable energy.
Our most recent partnership with the Seneca Nation developed a solar array unlike any other. The array was installed with a majority of the crew members coming from the Seneca Nation, in addition to a number of Nation electricians hired from the local union shop. Seneca people from the native-owned company ERW Enterprises, Inc. worked on the physical install of the system, learning very quickly. Commercial Site supervisor Dickie Howard noted that with only a couple days of training, the Seneca Nation installers were moving confidently about the site, joining in the healthy banter Dickie often brings to work sites and to our office (his laugh is infectious!) Cooperation and camaraderie combined with the hard working backgrounds of these installers resulted in a quality product of which to be proud. The feeling on the job site was one of unity and strength. Dickie noted the incredible satisfaction in this project came in part from the Seneca people’s understanding that the project was being done for, and by, themselves. It was focused on people, on autonomy, and on ensuring a healthy environment and brighter future for the Seneca Nation of Indians.
SunCommon is thrilled to help bring solar to the people of the Seneca Nation and we look forward to future projects along their quest towards energy independence. The array became fully operational in October 2017. The energy produced at the site now lowers residents’ power bills, positively affecting all members of this sovereign nation. This is done by working together, in a way that respects our land and our future generations. We believe energy from the sun can power our lives and build vibrant communities, and we would like to thank the Seneca Nation for modeling this so brightly.