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White Earth could be center of big renewable energy project

White Earth small businesses are leading the energy transition. “By bringing energy independence to White Earth, tribal members will see tremendous improvements in their communities,” the Green Team said in its news release.

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Tribal small business leaders work together to assess renewable energy projects for the White Earth Nation. Back row from left are: Mary Gagnon, Ray St. Clair, Jodan Rousu and Dennis St. Clair. Front row from left are: Char Ellis, Doug Lee and Teresa St. Clair. (David Kenedy Photography)

If approved by a tribal referendum in April, White Earth could find itself on the cutting edge of a large renewable energy project.

A half-dozen or so tribal small businesses, backed by the White Earth Tribal Council, are partnering with a Washington-based business development consulting firm called Total Spectrum, “to conduct third-party due diligence and technical assessment for a utility-scale renewable energy project,” said Bridget Guiza, communications director for the White Earth Green Team.

White Earth would benefit from utility investments in renewable, sustainable energy, Guiza said.

The Total Spectrum analysis will include a smorgasbord of information: Strategic development, legal review, construction requirements, regulatory environment, workforce needs, bid letting and procurement, financing, ethics and the environment and education. The aim is to put White Earth in the most advantageous position to land favorable agreements, Guiza said.

The tribal small businesses involved in the “Green Team” effort are White Clay Industries, Muskrat Systems, White River Inc., Ogema Organics and Teresa St. Clair, doing business as Midwest Medical Marijuana.

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Guiza said these small businesses, owned and operated by White Earth tribal members, bring a wide array of skills, experience, and talent to the table.

Collectively they have more than 50 years of construction, engineering, business development and planning experience, traditional ecological and cultural knowledge, and tribal and family law expertise.

They’ve also participated in strategic planning and management training in continuing their own business education.

“We would appreciate your support while we are working hard to make the best decision for White Earth,” said Mary Gagnon, executive director of White Clay Industries.

Guiza wants to make it clear that these tribal business leaders are committed to serving the people of White Earth. “They are parents, daughters, sons, sisters, brothers, and spouses,” the Green Team said in a news release sent out by Guiza. “They are raising the next generation and they employ White Earth tribal members. They are working on bringing more opportunities to the people of White Earth and to the next seven generations.”

This partnership is designed to bring energy independence to the tribe and improve the lives of all White Earth tribal members, she added.

White Earth small businesses are leading the energy transition. “By bringing energy independence to White Earth, tribal members will see tremendous improvements in their communities,” the Green Team said in its news release.

The tribal small businesses have been hosting a series of community events and feasts across White Earth for direct community input throughout this process, which started last month. White Earth voters will have the opportunity to make a decision by referendum in April on proposed energy projects that arise from this process.

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There is no specific proposal yet, since community input is still being received, but once a proposal is put forward, “we want to be as transparent as we possibly can,” Guiza said. “The goal is to get as many people out there informed as possible.”

Related Topics: GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
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