Cherokee Nation launches solar energy pilot program

Cherokee Nation launches solar energy pilot program

There aren’t many reasons to slow down on the road in front of Lucille Rind’s home in Tahlequah, but the 86-year-old said what’s on the roof of her home has people pausing and stopping by.

“I’ve been asked, 'What’s that on your roof?'” said Lucille.

Solar panels are on the roof of her home. They were installed by the Cherokee Nation, free of charge.

“If it hadn’t been for the Cherokee Nation, I couldn’t have what I have,” said Lucille.

She’s one of 17 elderly folks in the Cherokee Nation who are part of a solar energy pilot program. They’re hoping the panels will lower energy costs. Principal Chief Bill John Baker said if it’s successful, they’ll look for more grants to expand the program.

“We’re looking at every avenue we can to lower our carbon footprint,” said Chief Baker.

This isn’t the first time the Cherokee Nation has turned to solar energy. In November 2017, the Cherokee Nation installed a solar panel car charging station. In August of 2018, the Nation received a grant to purchase two new electric buses.

“We believe climate change is real,” said Chief Baker.

So far, Lucille estimates she’s saved anywhere from $50 to $80 a month on energy costs.

She admits, she pays a little more attention to the weather now.

“Yes, because if the sun isn’t shining, I know it’s not making (energy),” laughed Lucille.

Today, she’s grateful for the sun and for the Cherokee Nation.

The Creek Nation says if more grants become available they will apply for more homes in the future for the solar energy pilot program.

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