Nez Perce Tribe First in ID to Receive
by Eric Tegethoff
BOISE, Idaho -- Idaho's first large-scale solar battery from Tesla has been installed by the Nez Perce Tribe.
The Tesla Megapack is about the size of a shipping container and will store energy from solar panels to power the Lapwai Wastewater Treatment Plant.
Josh Powell, CEO of RevoluSun, the company bringing the Tesla Megapack to the Nez Perce, said the battery reduces the tribe's dependence on hydropower dams in the region, which stand in the way of salmon populations.
"So it gives the community a lot more resilience, but it also allows people like the Nez Perce to control their energy where it's being produced where they have lands," Powell explained. "And traditionally, Native American lands... the grid is the weakest on their lands. So it's a natural place to create that support."
The tribe is calling for the removal of four dams on the lower Snake River because they are an impediment to endangered salmon and steelhead populations making their way from the Pacific Ocean to Idaho.
Powell pointed out members of the tribe were part of the operation.
"We actually trained tribal members to do the solar installation," Powell noted. "The first battery was delivered in September of this year, and that's being integrated into the system now."
Powell added some of the changes utilities have proposed for solar could slow its growth in Idaho. For instance, Idaho Power wants to change rates for net metering, the process for compensating people with rooftop solar who contribute excess energy to the electric grid.
Powell observed there have also been arguments claiming solar is only possible for higher-income people, but it has not been his experience.
"People do it for economy, typically," Powell stressed. "That's certainly what's driving the Nez Perce to do it."
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