· Environmental Sustainability
· Renewable Energy
The first grant for the Ramona ecotourism project was submitted in 1998 to the Department of Energy (DOE) “Tribal Energy Program.” The grant dollars were available to any organization that could develop a project using renewable energy. It was hoped that such projects would assist DOE in discovering ways that renewable energy could be used to assist a world struggling with an energy crisis. Providing alternative energy to remote locations was another goal.
The Ramona Band of Cahuilla Mission Indians will be one of the first tribes to develop its entire reservation off-grid, using renewable energy as the primary power source. The tribe will purchase and install the primary components for a 65-80 kilowatt-hours per day central wind/PV/propane generator hybrid system that will power the reservation's housing, offices, ecotourism, and training businesses.
The electricity is planned to be distributed through an underground mini-grid. The tribe's cultural and economic development strategy is to establish a highly profitable renewable energy-powered ecotourism business on their reservation. A secondary goal is to demonstrate how renewable energy power systems can be used to eliminate the environmental impact of electric grid power lines on Indian lands, National Forests, National Parks, other protected areas, and the general rural environment. Ninety percent of the electrical and thermal energy needed to power tribal housing, offices, and ecotourism and training businesses will come from wind or solar energy. Propane will be used as a back-up energy source. Revenues to support the project in the long term will come primarily from tourism and training, not energy sales. Research and fundraising for this project have been underway for three years. The hybrid system will enable the reservation and ecotourism facility to operate entirely off-grid. The Ramona project will serve as a model and an important training tool for other Native Americans.