For Immediate Release: June 24, 2024


Energy Conservation Assistance Act program expanded to include California Native American Tribes

SACRAMENTO – The California Energy Commission (CEC) has expanded its successful low- and zero-interest clean energy loan program to include applications from California Native American Tribes. 

The first recipient of the expanded Energy Conservation Assistance Act (ECAA) program is the Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians of California. On June 12, the CEC approved a $3 million loan at one-percent interest for the tribe to build a carport- and rooftop-mounted solar photovoltaic system to support the casino, hotel, and event center building. The Rancheria is a regional emergency/evacuation center during power outages, wildfires and natural disasters.

Middletown Rancheria Chair Moke Simon said the project is a big step in the tribe’s long-term vision to support its energy needs and reliability efforts.

“This is monumental for our people, our cultural lands, our ability to continue to serve the community during catastrophic events for Middletown and beyond,” he said. “This is our first step towards energy sovereignty for the Middletown Rancheria, one that will serve our tribal nation for many generations to come.”

Photo of Middletown Rancheria Chairman Moke Simon at a CEC business meeting.

To date, the CEC has invested more than $100 million for tribal clean energy projects through programs like ECAA, the Long Duration Energy Storage Program and the Electric Program Investment Charge program. Funding has resulted in microgrid installations for seven tribes statewide. Microgrid systems provide backup power and support statewide grid reliability in the event of an emergency.

“These programs and the projects they support are good for the tribes, good for the state, good for the innovation economy and are good actions to confront the challenge of our time, which is climate change,” said CEC Chair David Hochschild. 

The ECAA program provides low-interest loans for energy efficiency, renewable energy, fleet electric vehicle charging, and energy storage projects. In addition to tribes, the program makes one-percent interest loans available to cities, counties, special districts, public colleges and universities, public care institutions, and public hospitals. Zero-percent interest loans are available for public school districts, charter schools, county offices of education, and state special schools.

Since it was first established in 1979, the program has provided more than $500 million in loans for more than 950 projects, saving tens of millions of dollars in energy costs.

“Payback of the loan is based on the energy savings of the project, and sometimes those savings can be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars each year,” said Armand Angulo, who is the equity and public participation manager for the CEC’s Office of the Public Advisor, Energy Equity, and Tribal Affairs. “That goes a long way towards energy independence and self-determination.”

The Middletown project is expected to save the Rancheria $212,000 annually in utility costs, and payback is expected in 14 years.

“This gives us the funding that has been unobtainable for many years,” Simon said. “This is the first part of a long-term vision for the rancheria’s energy needs and reliability. This is going to be a big step.”

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About the California Energy Commission
The California Energy Commission is the state's primary energy policy and planning agency. It has seven core responsibilities: advancing state energy policy, encouraging energy efficiency, certifying thermal power plants, investing in energy innovation, developing renewable energy, transforming transportation, and preparing for energy emergencies.

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