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Cherokee Nation gives eco-friendly boost to community centers

Ribbon cutting for solar panels at Tri-Community W.E.B. in Briggs. (Cherokee Nation)
Ribbon cutting for solar panels at Tri-Community W.E.B. in Briggs. (Cherokee Nation)
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Cherokee Nation installed rooftop solar panels to their community buildings to help lower utility costs as well as provide an eco-friendly energy source.

Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Chuck Hoskin Jr., Deputy Chief Bryan Warner, and other tribal officials met with community leaders to cut the ribbon on the energy-efficient projects as part of the $30 million Housing, Jobs and Sustainable Communities Act Chief Hoskin announced in August 2019.

“A fundamental principle of our Cherokee culture is that we should consider the impact of what we do today on the next seven generations of future Cherokees. We are answering this sacred responsibility by investing in strong communities and a clean and healthy environment, and one result of that investment is enabling Cherokee community buildings to install rooftop solar panels,” said Chief Hoskin.

Under the Housing, Jobs, and Sustainable Communities Act, 75 percent of the $30 million is helping Cherokee citizens with housing repairs.

The other 25 percent is set aside to upgrade Cherokee community buildings with connectivity and sustainability projects such as solar power, HVAC systems, and Wi-Fi connectivity.

The solar project is distributed through the tribe’s Community & Cultural Outreach sustainability grant, which is meant to fund green-friendly efforts and other cost-saving renewable energy technology in Cherokee community buildings across the tribe’s 14 county reservation.

Tri-Community Association, serving residents in Welling, Eldon, and Briggs in Cherokee County, received 66 solar panels through this project, making it the largest solar installation so far under the Act.

The 26.4 kW system will offset over half of the community building’s energy costs and save over $100,000 in energy costs over the life of the system. The panels are estimated to reduce carbon emissions equal to about 60,500 miles annually for an average car, or about 650,000 pounds of coal burned at a conventional power plant.

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The Housing, Jobs, and Sustainable Communities Act is part of Chief Hoskin’s first 100 days initiatives.

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