The CEC has invested more than $100 million for tribal clean energy projects through programs like Energy Conservation Assistance Act, 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.

Microgrids are small-scale electrical systems that provide and manage power independent of the larger electric grid. They are used to support facilities with critical energy needs like hospitals, business facilities or emergency operations centers. 

Microgrids are especially important to tribal communities since some experience frequent power interruptions, infrastructure issues, or natural disasters.

Microgrids are also important tools in helping California meet its clean energy goals because they help reduce greenhouse gas emissions, support grid reliability and facilitate higher levels of distributed generation. California Native American tribes are leading the way with their partnerships with the state of California on these innovative and impactful projects.

The microgrids were funded through the California Energy Commission’s Electric Program Investment Charge (EPIC) program, which invests in scientific and technological research to accelerate the transformation of the electricity sector to meet the state’s energy and climate goals, and the Long Duration Energy Storage (LDES), which invests in projects that accelerate the implementation of long duration energy storage solutions to increase the resiliency and reliability of the state’s energy infrastructure.

In 2024, the CEC approved a $9 million grant to demonstrate a long-duration 1.5 megawatt/6.6 megawatt hour zinc bromine flow battery project that will support six facilities supporting functions critical to the health, safety, and welfare of the Barona Band of Mission Indians in San Diego County. The project will provide at least 100 megawatt hours of power for up to 24 hours, and up to 3 megawatts of power for short durations.

In 2015, the Schatz Energy Research Center at Cal Poly Humboldt was awarded a $5 million grant to demonstrate a microgrid at the Blue Lake Rancheria Hotel and Casino in Humboldt County. The project featured 420 kilowatts (kW) of solar photovoltaic paired with a 950-kilowatt hour (kWh) battery energy storage system. The system became fully operational in 2017.

In 2017, the Schatz Center enter received an additional $1.5 million to install a 60-kW solar canopy system paired with a 174-kWh battery energy storage system to support a fueling station and convenience store on the Rancheria. The system became operational in 2020.

The microgrid acts as a resilience hub for the local community, providing safe shelter during high heat and electricity outage events and supporting an American Red Cross shelter. 

In 2019, the two microgrids remained operational during a three-day regional grid outage, proving the system’s ability to provide service through emergency events and providing critical life-saving services to the Blue Lake Rancheria tribal community. 

The microgrids served the community after a 6.4 magnitude earthquake hit the area in December 2022.

A $2.6 million grant was awarded to the University of California, Riverside in 2015 to install a 90-kilowatt (kW) solar carport system with a 33 kW/91-kilowatt hour battery energy storage system on Chemehuevi Indian Tribe land. 

The microgrid provides renewable backup power to the Chemehuevi community center building and in the event of local outages and will increase reliability.

The system went online in February 2020. 

Charge Bliss Inc. received a $32.7 million grant in 2023 to install 5 megawatts of solar and a 15-megawatt-hour (MWh) flow battery system on Paskenta Band of the Nomlaki Tribe land. 

The microgrid will provide continuous support to community power loads, peak power demand, and energy cost reduction to the tribe. 

The microgrid system is scheduled to be operational by 2025.

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 A $6.6 million grant was awarded to the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians in 2020 to install a 4-megawatt-hour (MWh) vanadium redox flow battery system on tribal lands. 

The battery, which will provide up to 10 hours of power, will be interconnected with 2 megawatts of solar photovoltaic. The microgrid will provide resiliency and cost savings at a chiller plant at Harrah’s Resort Southern California. The project will also serve as an emergency public shelter and cooling center for the tribe. 

The system, which will be built by Powerflex Systems, Inc., is expected to be operational by 2025. 

A $1.7 million grant was awarded to GRID Alternatives in 2020 to install a 50 kilowatt (kW)/500-kilowatt-hour long-duration energy storage system and provide workforce development with the Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians. 

The system is coupled with a 50 kW solar photovoltaic system and will serve the Soboba fire station to alleviate frequent public safety power shutoff events that affect the safety and quality of life of tribal members. 

Daily operation of the project is expected to cut electric bills significantly for the tribe and bring in demand response revenues. During grid outages, the system will provide at least 10 hours of backup service, with the potential to provide 24 or more hours during times of high insolation. 

The project is scheduled to be operational by the end of 2024.  

In 2021, a $1 million grant was awarded to GRID Alternatives to demonstrate 4 kilowatt/6 kilowatt-hour mobile renewable backup generators on Soboba Band of Luiseño Indians (Riverside County), Blue Lake Rancheria (Humboldt County) , and La Jolla Band of Luiseño Indians (San Diego County), tribal land.

Ten backup generators were installed at each tribal community. The generators use lithium-ion phosphate batteries paired with mobile solar photovoltaic to provide up to 20 hours of backup power. 

The project will provide rapidly deployable renewable backup power to critical loads for the Soboba, Blue Lake, and La Jolla communities in the event of local outages, while improving air quality, safety, and costs compared to diesel generators. 

The units were deployed in 2022.  

Project One  In 2022, a $31 million grant was awarded to Indian Energy LLC, a privately held Native American-owned microgrid developer, to install a 60-megawatt-hour (MWh) long-duration system on Viejas Tribe of Kumeyaay Indians land.

The project uses two non-lithium long-duration technologies, which provide up to 10 hours of power. The microgrid, which also includes 15 megawatts of solar generation, will provide renewable backup power to the Viejas community in the event of local outages. The tribe will also be able to shift electricity use away from the statewide electrical grid during calls for conservation.

The first phase of the project, totaling 38 MWh of storage, is expected to be operational in summer 2024. The full system is expected to be operational by summer 2025.

In 2024, the CEC approved a resolution increasing the project budget by $12 million for a total of $43 million and extending the project term by one year to increase the microgrid capacity by 10 MWh.

Project Two In 2020, a $1.2 million grant was awarded to Indian Energy and their flywheel technology partner Amber Kinetics to install a 500 kilowatt long-duration energy storage system on Viejas Tribe of Kumeyaay Indians tribal land. 

A subsystem of the 15 megawatt microgrid will use flywheel long-duration energy storage to provide up to 10 hours of power. 

The microgrid will provide renewable backup power to vital tribal economic assets as primary power and in the event of local outages. 

The long-duration flywheels will be installed in a novel and cost-saving way. Testing will take place at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies’ Rapid Integration and Commercialization Unity Research Center. 

Installation on tribal land is expected to start in late 2024.

Global Power Group is building the microgrid, with operations scheduled for 2025. 


Sierra Graves
Director of Tribal Affairs and Tribal Liaison


Tribal Program