Basic Information

Our Solution

Thunder Valley Energy

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Our tagline:

Building the Regenerative Communities of Tomorrow

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Our pitch:

In the words of Lenny Lone Hill, Elder and TVCDC Construction Trainer:  “This is a show me place”. TVCDC Energy is showing the world that energy sovereignty is achievable.  By installing solar systems on 100% of the single family homes and all the buildings in our Regenerative Community Development, we are not only leading a movement toward place based, ecologically responsible design, we are helping families understand their relationship to the energy economy, and build personal equity and agency.  

The overarching problem we are addressing is the persistent unavailability of resources, be they electricity, capital, housing, or food, all of which result from the United States failure to honor the Fort Laramie Treaty of 1868.  The loss of essential resources has resulted in systemic and pervasive poverty, and an unsustainable and inequitable relationship to major energy producers/distributors and the political process.

It is not uncommon to find 2 or three Lakota families living in crumbling trailer homes which are ill-suited to the extreme temperature variations of the region, where summer average high temperatures regularly exceed 100° and winter lows can linger below 0°.  With a per capita income of just over $6000, families who commonly pay $200-$400 for for utilities are literally burning through their incomes and perpetuating an unsustainable energy system.

Our project proposal is to develop a “Solar Resilience Kit (SRK) and a series of demonstration projects.  The Solar Resilience Kit will include a solar training program for installation, operations and maintenance, our “solar hub” for partners for materials, all of which will be developed and refined through installations of 21 single family homes through Spring 2019.  

One of our most essential innovations is the development of our Ecosystem of Opportunity which takes a comprehensive approach to design and system integration: taken together, our programs from a living system where each component in the system supports, propels and advances all the others.  For example, Thunder Valley’s solar projects have literally been incubated by the capacity built in our Workforce Development Program. Similarly, the Ecosystem of Opportunity also provides financial counseling through our Sustainable Homeownership Project for future homeowners buying their first home; we could provide many, many examples of how building programmatic diversity and relationality into our ecosystem supports sustainable growth.  

Our project will change our community, and potentially the region, in multiple ways.  First TVCDC Energy in cooperation with TVCDC’s Workforce Development Program, is building local capacity by empowering a new sustainable construction workforce, second the TVCDC Solar Resilience Kit creates a replicable roadmap that will help new entrepreneurs and homeowners build projects, third, we help homeowners transform their household budgets, and last, TVCDC serves as a convener and rallying point for national partners and resources, that will transform the Pine Ridge Reservation.  

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Where our project is located:

Pine Ridge, SD, USA
Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

The topic our project addresses:

  • Solar
  • Infrastructure
  • Housing
Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.
About Your Solution

What makes our project innovative:

Our project is innovative, in so far that we know of no other project anywhere in the world that is as ambitious as ours, that is actually being built- today, by community members.  Other large projects are often for profit, or, use tribal governments to access larger grants from the US Department of Energy. Our project, in South Dakota, where there is no net metering, and few subsidies, must be capable of attracting private and public dollars.  

This is possible because our listen-do-learn-share process builds partnerships that align mission and purpose through investment and a commitment shared learning.

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

How we use technology in our project:

Emerging technologies help us build our project and the Ecosystem of Opportunity at large in multiple ways.  One example is our use of Salesforce for Nonprofits, which uses multiple evaluation tools to drive real time user feedback about our programs and projects.

Another essential tool comes from our partnership with Aurora Solar, an online design software system which allows us to create precise simulations of projects anywhere in the world.

Thunder Valley Energy is also in the process of implementing monitoring tools which will allow continuous monitoring of system performance.  

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Our project goals over the next 12 months:

Over the next twelve months, we will reach a number of milestones.  First, we will have at least 3 fully certified NABCEP PV Installers, and we will increase the size of our installation team by at least 50%.   This will allow for installation of complete PV systems on at least 14 of our 21 single family homes, plus our brand new community center and apartment building (to be completed summer 2018)

We will continue to develop and refine each component of the TVCDC Solar Resilience Kit so that our model can be clearly communicated in shared learning opportunities.

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Our vision over the next three to five years to grow and scale our project to affect the lives of more people:

Soon, Thunder Valley Energy will have installed PV systems on all existing buildings in the rapidly growing 34 acre development, providing housing for nearly 2000 people, and functioning as a free-standing net-zero community.  

By assisting in fundraising and financing projects for the Oglala Sioux Tribe, and building a workforce to design and install, we believe it is an achievable goal to achieve energy independence within 2 decades.

We believe our example of a build from within model will be not only replicable, but has the potential to incubate projects throughout Indian Country.

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Highlights from our project:

In April 2017, we installed a 26 kW system to power our offices and Workforce Development Center.  This was our first commercial scale install, requiring coordination with partners, our local electrical co-op, and major funding, planning and design.  Contributions from Sunpower, Nathan Cummings and Cedar Foundations made the dream of a robust program a reality.

While TVCDC has received awards from Bush for Community Innovation among many others for design and social impact, we are yet to receive an award specifically for solar.  

See KOTA News April 2017 and the  Black Hills Knowledge Network for additional info on TVCDC Solar

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

http://thundervalley.org

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Our promotional video:

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

http://www.kotatv.com/content/news/Thunder-Valley-making-big-move-into-solar-energy-419911413.html

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

https://www.blackhillsknowledgenetwork.org/news/thunder-valley-invests-in-solar-energy.html#.WrQck2aZN24

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

http://www.genproenergy.com/project/thunder-valley-development-corporation/

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

The cities where we operate or plan to operate in the next 12 months. First city:

Porcupine, SD, USA
Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Second city:

Pine Ridge, SD, USA
Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

How our project will be accessible and affordable to our community:

Because TVCDC is a shared learning lab, our partners share a deep investment in our mission.  The contributions our partners make deeply subsidize or completely eliminate the cost of designing and installing systems.  Because TVCDC exists to empower our community, we are committed to providing community members with the tools and capacity to install systems, which in many cases, will mean including large sweat equity subsidies.  The Solar Resiliency Kit will include resources, trainings, and our demonstration projects to share knowledge and best practices with our community and beyond.

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

How many people we are currently serving with our project:

TVCDC Solar Projects are currently making a huge economic impact on utility bills for four families, and driving down electricity costs for our operations which indirectly affects all of our sixty full time workers.  

Our projects directly impact the lives of all sixteen people who work directly with our solar program by providing meaningful career advancement.  Our Ecosystem of Opportunity provides employment for 60 full time employees and has supported the development of literally hundreds of program participants.

Our projects and our “show me” demonstration of our commitment to sustainable energy, sets an example for the entire Reservation and beyond.  

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

How many people we will be serving with our project in the 12 months and the next 3 years:

Over the next twelve months, we will reach a number of milestones.  First, we will have at least 3 fully certified NABCEP PV Installers, and we will increase the size of our installation team by at least 50%.   This will allow for installation of complete PV systems on at least 14 of our 21 single family homes, plus our brand new community center and apartment building (to be completed summer 2018)

We will continue to develop and refine each component of the TVCDC Solar Resilience Kit so that our model can be clearly communicated in shared learning opportunities.  

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.
About Your Team

How our project team is organized:

Non-Profit
Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

How many people work on our project team:

12
Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

How many years we have been working on our project:

1-2 years
Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Our revenue model:

Our revenue model is diverse.  First our organization, our projects, and Ecosystem of Opportunity are funded by over 80 foundation partners, plus public grants and loans.  Resources are shared in the Ecosystem of Opportunity across programs in the system; for example, of the 4 installers currently working at TVCDC, 3 were cross-trained through our Workforce Development Program.  

TVCDC has applied for multiple grants on behalf of the Oglala Sioux Tribe.  Given our demonstrated success and our capacity in the solar industry, TVCDC will be positioned well to assist the Tribe in the application of grants to the US Department of Energy.  As these grants become contracts for Solar Installations, TVCDC’s capacity to design and install will be at the ready. Because requirements under TERO (Tribal Employment Rights) guidelines offer opportunities and preference to Native contractors, TVCDC will be uniquely positioned to help such entities fulfill this mandate.

Lastly, TVCDC has already been contacted by multiple local entities interested in developing installations for their buildings.  We are building capacity through designing and installing on buildings in our Regenerative Community Development at this time, but cannot ignore the tremendous potential of our local energy market, where very few solar installers exist.

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.
Partnership Potential

Why we are applying to Solve:

We are forward looking; this is in part because of the partnerships we have, and the optimism we share.  We believe we can not only meet our current needs, but we can thrive, without compromising the potential for our children to build on our work in a sustainable world.  We are interested in building our network, and furthering our commitment to shared learning and the advancement of our cause. Our engagement in SOLVE’s challenges has, over the last 2 years, helped us grow.  Entering challenges is in and of itself a powerful tool to reflect on and build our narrative.

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

The key barriers for our project:

American Indians as a group, receive a tiny fraction of available philanthropic investments in the United States, while as a group American Indians, statistically speaking, face the greatest disparities and challenges of any similar demographic.  Solve can help us build our network both in philanthropy and through connections with industry experts, but also through this shared learning platform.

Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

The types of connections and partnerships we would be most interested in if we became Fellows:

  • Peer-to-Peer Networking
  • Technology Mentorship
  • Connections to the MIT campus
  • Media Visibility and Exposure
  • Grant Funding
Add a comment

Read comments
No comments to show.

Solution Team

  • Chance Renville Project Manager, Thunder Valley CDC, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate
 
    Back
to Top