Opinion: Renewable energy deals must benefit tribal nations
"Returning from yet another “Renewable Energy in Indian Country” conference, I was struck by what passes for a “fair” or “equitable” renewable energy development deal in Indian country. My question is always “fair and equitable for whom?” Many times I cannot find where the tribe’s interests are considered at all. If they are, the agreements are written in such a way that the developer can easily avoid commitments (tribal ownership, training, employment, education, community development and promised minimum payments, among others.)

If a tribe truly desires to develop renewable energy on their land, there are some suggestions I respectfully submit to Native leaders for consideration. These guidelines will help create a basis for development of renewable energy projects that truly address tribal interests and provide the best opportunity to realize the benefits that Native America and First Nations should derive from renewable energy development.

The tribe should own the project. By “own” I mean 90 percent or more of the completed project should be tribally-owned. No leases, no royalties and no minority share. The project development and financing may initially give ownership in favor of the investor/financier because it is required to activate the various tax benefits and financing techniques that are available for renewable energy. However, once those credits and accelerated depreciation are exhausted, ownership should be with the tribe."

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Scott Eskwitt: Renewable energy deals must be fair (Indian Country Today 6/11)