LAKEPORT, Calif. – As part of a statewide effort to address climate change, the Scotts Valley Energy Co. – a business enterprise of the Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians – was awarded a Tribal Government Challenge Planning Grant to create a bioenergy feasibility toolkit to assist other tribes and businesses in determining energy resiliency needs and provide another tool for wildfire mitigation efforts.
The Scotts Valley Energy Co., or SVEC, is bringing the first bioenergy/biochar production facility to its tribal lands in Lake County, said Tribal Chairman Shawn Davis.
Davis said the facility will utilize waste woody biomass mitigated from high fire threat areas or previously burned areas to create sustainable, clean electricity as well as produce biochar – a soil amendment used in agricultural production to improve soil moisture and nutrient retention lessening the amounts of water and fertilizer used which in turn will help better protect the environment.
“Additionally, this new technology – which produces no smoke or particulates, can help lessen the amount of open-pile burning that currently occurs on agricultural and forested lands releasing carbon and smoke,” said Davis.
The grant award in the amount of $248,000 will allow SVEC to create a feasibility toolkit that will allow tribes and other large businesses to determine energy usage, resource availability, micro-grid options, biomass fuel requirements and more.
“California recognizes the leadership of tribes in advancing strong clean air standards as well as
ambitious climate and energy goals,” said Christina Snider, tribal advisor to Gov. Gavin Newsom. “These grants provide opportunities to focus on new Tribal climate and energy planning activities.”
Funded by the California Energy Commission, or CEC, and administered in partnership with the California Strategic Growth Council, or SGC, the program focuses on the unique needs of tribal governments and the valuable ongoing role tribes serve in helping the state achieve its climate goals.
“The CEC is proud to provide funding to support Tribal climate leadership through this unique initiative,” said CEC Commissioner Karen Douglas. “These tribally-driven projects will bring important research and technological gains while helping ensure all communities benefit from access to the state’s clean energy investments.”
The grants range from $215,000 to $250,000 and support planning for a variety of climate change and clean energy projects, including energy storage, renewables, biomass, and community and energy resilience to climate impacts.
“The California Strategic Growth Council Team looks forward to building relationships and collaborating with the Tribal Government Challenge grantees to ensure projects advance Tribes’ goals and priorities around climate change, energy, and resilience,” said Louise Bedsworth, SGC’s executive director. “We commend all of the applicants for submitting thoughtful proposals and are eager to support the awardees as they begin their planning processes.”
“With over 100 federally recognized Tribes in Northern California, all of which live under the threat of catastrophic wildfire and the need for reliable, clean, and sustainable energy, we see SVEC’s small-scale bioenergy/biochar production facilities as a possible key to solve many issues facing Indian Country today, said Thomas Jordan, CEO of SVEC. “We look forward to the opportunity to create a feasibility toolkit for other tribes to make informed energy decisions.”
In addition to the Scotts Valley Energy Co., another enterprise of the Scotts Valley Band of
Pomo Indians is The Clean Carbon Co., or T3, which will take in the biochar created by the SVEC facilities and process it into activated charcoal, thanks to a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
This activated charcoal will be used in the production of much-needed N-95 respirators, and also can be used in drinking water filtration systems.
The Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians said it takes the threat of hazardous fuels reduction to mitigate the threat of wildfires very seriously as the tribe – and all residents of the county – have seen more than 60 percent of Lake County landmass burn in catastrophic wildfires over the past six years.
Another way they are helping to address this issue is by co-creating the not for profit Tribal EcoRestoration Alliance, which is a cross-cultural, multi-organizational collaborative that works to revitalize ecology, economy, and culture through indigenous-led stewardship including restoration work that mitigates the impacts of climate change and reduces the risk of uncharacteristic wildfires and incorporates traditional ecological knowledge.
The Tribal Government Challenge Program is also supporting a Statewide Gap Analysis to provide an assessment of tribes’ clean energy and climate change adaptation and resilience priorities. The analysis is led by Glendora-based firm Prosper Sustainability along with a consulting team including tribal professionals, and women- and Native American-owned businesses, all with extensive experience working with California Native American Tribes.
Tribal Government Challenge Planning Grant awardees include:
• The Big Valley Band of Pomo Indians (Lake County)
• The Karuk Tribe (Siskiyou County)
• The Kashia Band of Pomo Indians (Sonoma County)
• The Middletown Rancheria of Pomo Indians of California (Lake County)
• The Pit River Tribe (Shasta, Siskiyou, Modoc, and Lassen Counties)
• The Pala Band of Mission Indians, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, and the San Pasqual Band
of Mission Indians (San Diego County)
• The Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians (Lake County)
• The Tule River Tribe (Tulare County)