Robert Gough: Tribal equity in wind development
"Last week, The New York Times covered two stories outlining the need of two American governments to acquire equity in contemporary economic development enterprises: One was about the federal government’s response to the need for equity in $700 billion national bank bailout and the other was about a tribal government’s response to the lack of equity in $58.6 million wind project on an Indian reservation.

The federal wind production tax credit, or PTC, incentive was extended for one year, but again, with no language to provide for tribal equity in Indian reservation projects. That failure is a primary basis for the difficulties in renewable energy development on impoverished Indian reservations.

Tribal leaders at Rosebud, asserting their governmental right to increase a tribal tax on a 30-megawatt wind project, want to be certain that they are not taken advantage of again, this time by outside wind developers and investors. But the reported eleventh-hour “rancor” and “frustration” surrounding the Rosebud wind development deal has little to do with the hearts, minds or motives of the developers or investors or council members.

It is as unfortunate as it is understandable, given the long history of exploitation of resource extraction in Indian country underscored by the long-running Cobell Indian trust case. With this history, it is no wonder that a tribe, shut out from an equity stake in a project built on its own reservation by the structure of federal incentives policy, seeks to get the most upfront benefit out of a non-Indian project in which the tribe has no ownership interest."

Get the Story:
Robert Gough: Tribal equity in the wind (Indian Country Today 10/17)

Related Stories:
Rosebud Sioux Tribe weighs deal for wind farm (10/10)