Our Work

ELECTRIC NATION

ElectricNation™ is a Native-led public-private partnership working to purchase electric vehicles (EVs) for Tribal fleets, install EV supply equipment (EVSE), and provide equitable access to clean, affordable transportation in rural, underserved Tribal communities, while growing public familiarity with clean transportation options and connecting communities with key medical, educational, and retail destinations.

Upper Midwest Inter-Tribal EV Charging Community Network

ElectricNation™ launched in 2021 with Upper Midwest Inter-Tribal EV Charging Community Network, a 3-year project aiming to increase access to plug-in EVs and charging stations for Tribal members in the Upper Midwest. The project utilizes partial funding from the U.S Department of Energy (DOE) Vehicle Technologies Office to purchase EVs for Tribal fleets and deploy charging stations in Tribal communities throughout Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota.

Native Sun and its partners are working together to electrify highways serving local Tribal communities, as well as add EV chargers to the Native American National and State Scenic Byway and other routes that are heavily traveled by Native communities. By growing public familiarity with clean transportation options and establishing EV corridors connecting rural Reservations and multi-family communities to key medical, educational, and retail destinations, we aim to:

  • Deploy commercial, passenger, and transit EVs and related equipment to test and demonstrate their efficacy in rural areas;
  • Provide new EV infrastructure in areas disproportionately affected by environmental, social, and economic inequities;
  • Catalyze energy self-determination and create new job opportunities; and
  • Expand access to benefits of electrified transportation to more Tribal members

This project will create a sustainable ecosystem and expand EV access by:

  • Providing equitable access to clean, affordable transportation in multi-family housing and rural, underserved Tribal communities
  • Installing 59 DC fast-charging units on Reservations and their vital travel routes
  • Installing 63 Level 2 EV supply equipment points at community gathering spots, multi-family dwellings, Tribal colleges, and other destinations
  • Deploying 16 light-duty electric vehicles, an electric shuttle, and two electric school buses
  • Developing two new workforce training programs for Standing Rock Sioux Tribe and Red Lake Nation members
  • Working to engage and educate Tribal members, auto dealership sales staff and first responders
  • Documenting energy savings, emissions reductions, and EVs’ impact on Tribal members

So far, eleven new Ford EVs have been purchased with federal cost sharing for Tribal fleets at Red Lake Nation and the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe. The project has also deployed four public Level 2 charging stations at the Red Lake Trading Post, the Redby Community Center, Sitting Bull College, and the Grand River Casino.

Key Partners

  • Native Sun Community Power Development
  • Standing Rock Renewable Energy Power Authority (SAGE)
  • American Lung Association
  • MN & ND Clean Cities Coalitions
  • Connexus Capital
  • eFormative Options
  • Minnesota Center for Energy & Environment

Supporting Partners

  • Minnesota Pollution Control Agency
  • Minnesota Power
  • OtterTail Power
  • Xcel Energy
  • ZEF Energy

Community Partners

  • Grand River Casino & Resort
  • McLaughlin High School
  • Little Rock Community Center
  • Prairie Knights Casino
  • Red Lake Agricultural Department
  • Red Lake Family & Children Services
  • Red Lake Immersion School
  • Red Lake Nation Fisheries
  • Redby Community Center
  • Red Lake Trading Post
  • Sitting Bull College
  • Standing Rock Public Transit

Expanding Regional EVSE Access with Tribal Nations Based on Community Priorities

In ElectricNation’s second DOE-funded project, Expanding Regional EVSE Access with Tribal Nations Based on Community Priorities, Native Sun and its partners are launching a program to help Tribal communities plan for EVs and EV infrastructure, which will culminate in 15+ EV charging station installations in Tribal communities throughout Minnesota, Michigan, and Wisconsin.

This project aims to address EV barriers and demonstrate EVSE in Tribal communities in the western Great Lakes region. This will be accomplished through:

  • Engagement with Tribal communities in Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin
  • Development of individualized Deployment Plans for EVSE siting and management in each participating community
  • Installation of at least 15 Level 2 charging stations in strategic community locations
  • Working with regional utilities to enable installation of DC fast chargers (DCFC)

Key Partners

  • Native Sun Community Power Development
  • American Lung Association
  • MInnesota Center for Energy and Environment
  • eFormative Options LLC
  • MN/WI/MI Clean Cities Coalitions
  • Michigan Technological University
  • Oneida Engineering Solutions LLC

Supporting Partners

  • Xcel Energy

CLEAN ENERGY ACCELERATOR INITIATIVE

Native Sun’s Clean Energy Talent Accelerator is a part of Xcel Energy’s Power Up program, in partnership with Xcel Energy and MN Department of Employment and Economic Development (MN DEED) with the shared goal to increase diversity in the energy-related construction workforce. There are two parts to the program, and all at NO COST to eligible participants. Part 1 is Workforce Readiness and Orientation delivered by Native Sun and our educational partner, Julius Education, as self-paced online course modules to ensure participants are prepared and primed for success in Part 2. Part 2 is Technical Training and Apprenticeship, delivered in-person by Building Strong Communities. Native Sun and Julius Education provide navigation, career counseling, and support services for participants throughout both parts of the program. Part 1 is delivered November through January, and Part 2 occurs February through May, with participants finishing in time for the Spring construction season!

Our unique approach to training through online self-paced modules allows us to meet participants where they are, removing potential barriers such as transportation, schedule, weather considerations, child care needs, among others, while providing important navigation and support throughout. For additional information and eligibility, visit https://julius.live/mnenergy. Enrollment for the next cohort will open in Fall 2024.

JUST SOLAR WORKFORCE

Native Sun’s Just Solar Workforce program, in collaboration with partners, teaches Native people the skills they need to help create a clean energy future and enter into careers within the renewable energy sector. We provide hands-on training to Tribal members on Tribal lands, as well as remote instruction so Tribal members living elsewhere can participate as well.

SOLAR CUB

Native Sun’s Solar Cub program teaches the intersections of environmentalism, climatology, energy, and Native culture to young Tribal members so they may help their communities progress toward energy sovereignty and a just energy transition. The Solar Cub program preserves Ojibwe language and tradition while simultaneously training young Tribal members to become future leaders in the renewable energy sector.