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Clean tech making difference on reservations

Renewable energy is more than an option for Native American tribes in the U.S.  For many, it is the only way to bring stable electricity prices, create jobs and offer income.

On the Oglala Lakota Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, almost 40 percent of the people have no electricity.  More than 90 percent of tribe members live below the poverty line and face an unemployment rate over 80 percent.  The Energy Information Administration estimates that 14 percent of households on tribal reservations have no access to electricity, 10 times the national average.

One reason is geography.  Reservations are spread over vast tracts of land, with members scattered and living in homes not near electricity generation.  With the cost of running power lines prohibitive (up to $60,000 a mile for remote locations), tribes from Hopi to Navajo to Lakota rely on solar energy and battery storage.

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