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July 13th, 2015
Grijalva, Heinrich Introduce Bill To Boost Clean Energy Development On Tribal Lands

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Raúl M. Grijalva (AZ-03), the Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee, and U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, introduced the Tribal Tax Incentive for Renewable Energy Act in their respective chambers of Congress. The legislation will allow tribal governments to take advantage of the existing federal renewable energy investment tax credit in the same way any private developer already does.

“For too long, unfair tax code disparities have kept Native American Tribes at an economic disadvantage,” said Rep. Grijalva. “This bill helps Tribes take advantage of the Section 48 tax rules that have helped successful cities and communities around the country. When this bill becomes law, Tribes can start creating the clean energy jobs Congress should have been supporting years ago. Arizona and the Southwest have a great deal of open land and solar potential that deserves federal assistance. This bill is the best way to unlock that potential, and I’m excited to work with my colleague to make sure it moves forward.”

“Energy development is one of the most promising areas of economic growth for Indian Country today,” said Sen. Heinrich.“Across the country, solar, wind, geothermal, hydropower, and other renewable energy development have become a source for new jobs and business opportunities. Giving tribes access to tax incentives is key to creating the kind of energy autonomy that our Native American tribes deserve.”

Full audio of the teleconference announcing the Tribal Tax Incentive for Renewable Energy Actis available here.

Congressman Grijalva and Senator Heinrich’s legislation would amend section 48 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to allow Indian Tribal governments to transfer the full amount of the business tax credit for commercial-scale, renewable energy projects to any other taxpayer.  By “monetizing” the tax credit, it can be sold to another entity and make the full benefits of the credit available to the tribal owner of the project.

According to a report by U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Indian Country comprises 2 percent of U.S. land but contains an estimated 5 percent of all renewable energy resources. The total technical potential on tribal lands for electricity generation from utility-scale rural solar resources is about 14 billion megawatt-hours, or 5.1 percent  of total U S generation potential.  The Navajo Nation alone accounts for over 15 percent of the total potential resource.

Large-scale solar energy projects have incredible potential on Native lands in New Mexico, especially those located near existing power transmission lines or consumers of electric power. Allowing tribes to actively lead the development of new clean-energy resources plays a major role in addressing our nation’s climate crisis. 


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