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The National Center Hails Historic Clean Energy Investment in Indian Country

Organization will support deployment of EPA funding

April 4, 2024

The National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development hails today’s announcement by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of a Clean Communities Investment Accelerator (CCIA) program award to the Native CDFI Network (NCN), which submitted the onlyNative-led, exclusively Native-serving CCIA application to EPA. NCN’s CCIA award of $400 million from EPA represents an unprecedented federal investment in clean energy project development across Native communities, with financing recipients set to include tribal governments, tribal enterprises, Native-owned small businesses, and Native consumers.
As a CCIA hub organization, NCN will deploy lending capital and technical assistance dollars to 63 CCIA-qualified Community Lenders across its national lender network, which is required to finance clean energy projects in all 10 EPA regions. NCN’s Community Lender Network is composed almost exclusively of certified and emerging Native community development financial institutions (CDFIs). This group includes Native Edge Finance, an emerging Native CDFI operated by The National Center. Last fall, The National Center also joined NCN’s CCIA application as one of a dozen nationally renowned Coalition Partners, who will now provide cutting-edge technical assistance and other supports customized for NCN’s Community Lenders and the Native communities they will serve.
“Today marks an important milestone for Native communities that are forging a sustainable future,” said Chris James, President and CEO of The National Center. “This CCIA award will provide tribal governments, tribal enterprises, and others across Indian Country with low-cost capital to fund the development of vital clean energy projects at a scale we have never seen before, which will make Native communities more resilient and self-sufficient and their lands more environmentally healthy and sustainable. We are grateful the Biden Administration continues to ensure that Indian Country is a vital part of the energy transformation occurring across the United States. The National Center stands ready to work with the Native CDFI Network and its Community Lenders to deploy these dollars for maximum impact across Indian Country over the next several years.”
As a CCIA Coalition Partner, The National Center will provide ongoing education of and outreach to tribal governments, tribal enterprises, and Native-owned businesses regarding the availability of and process for accessing low-cost financing for CCIA-qualified clean energy projects, which include: (1) distributed energy generation and storage (rooftop or community solar, microgrids, distributed wind, and stand-alone storage); (2) net-zero emissions buildings (electrification/energy efficiency, school building space and water heating, replacement of backup diesel generators with storage, and community facility retrofits), and (3) zero-emissions transportation (fleet electrification and electric vehicle charging stations). Tribal governments, tribal enterprises, and Native-owned small businesses can secure various credits, grants, and rebates from the Inflation Reduction Act and Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to significantly or fully subsidize the cost of the financing they receive from CCIA Community Lenders to develop these clean energy projects.
The National Center also will assist NCN with assessing market demand in Native communities for CCIA-qualified projects and provide project-based, one-on-one technical assistance to individual Community Lenders and their financing partners that facilitates the development of specific projects.
“The National Center will be an instrumental partner in ensuring this Clean Communities Investment Accelerator award provides transformative and enduring clean energy benefits to Native communities,” said Pete Upton, CEO and Board Chair of the Native CDFI Network. “Tribal governments, tribal enterprises, and Native-owned businesses need to understand and take advantage of the extraordinary opportunities the CCIA provides in support of a clean energy future for Indian Country, and The National Center is uniquely positioned and equipped to help NCN build that understanding so clean energy projects take root and grow across Native communities.”
To learn more about EPA’s Clean Communities Investment Accelerator program, its other Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund programs, and the opportunities they present to Indian Country, please click here. To learn more about NCN’s CCIA program and the clean energy financing opportunities its Community Lenders will be providing, please click here.