Indian Energy Programs at the Department of Energy




March 22, 2021
Indian Energy Programs at the Department of Energy
Indian energy programs at the Department of Energy
funded by DOE grants receive highest priority. Priority will
(DOE) are carried out by the Office of Indian Energy Policy
also be given to tribes that have previously submitted grant
and Programs (IE) and the Loan Programs Office (LPO). IE
applications, but have not yet received awards.” Types of
funds a variety of activities that assist Indian tribes and
technical assistance provided by IE include education and
Alaska Native villages with energy development, energy-
outreach, technical analysis, financial analysis, and strategic
related capacity building, reduction of energy costs, and
energy planning for tribal energy projects.
electrification of tribal lands and homes. LPO provides loan
guarantees to Indian tribes for energy development. An
Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee Program
overview of IE and LPO and each program’s legislative and
Section 503 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58,
administrative history is provided below.
EPACT 2005), among other provisions, authorized DOE to
guarantee up to 90% of loans (including principal and
Indian Energy Program
interest) made to an Indian tribe or a tribal energy
Section 2606 of the Energy Policy Act of 1992 (P.L. 102-
development organization for energy development.
486, EPACT 1992) authorized DOE to grant financial
Aggregate outstanding guaranteed loans cannot exceed $2
assistance to Indian tribal governments. Through legislative
billion at any time. As with all federal credit programs,
and administrative action, the program has changed over
loans guaranteed under this program are statutorily required
time. IE provides financial assistance and technical
to pay a “subsidy cost” (a share of estimated program-wide
assistance to address barriers to deployment of energy
losses) prior to finalizing the loan guarantee agreement.
generation and energy efficiency projects on tribal lands. IE
Subsidy costs can be paid through appropriations, by the
funding for FY2021 totaled $22 million (P.L. 116-260),
applicant, or a combination thereof. Congress provided
with $17 million recommended for financial and technical
funding to the program in FY2017 including $8.5 million to
assistance. Tribes and Alaska Native villages may be
be available for loan guarantee subsidy costs. DOE first
eligible for funding through other DOE programs as well.
issued a solicitation for the Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee
Program (TELGP) in 2018, and DOE issued an amended
Financial Assistance
solicitation in January 2020, with initial submissions due by
Financial Assistance constitutes IE’s primary form of
March 2022. At the time of publication, no loan guarantees
support for energy technology deployment on tribal lands.
have been issued under this program. (For more details, see
Financial Assistance is available for the following types of
CRS CRS Insight IN11452, Department of Energy Loan
energy technology projects:
Programs: Tribal Energy Loan Guarantee)
 energy generating systems and energy efficiency
Legislative History
measures for tribal buildings;
Section 2606 of the EPACT 1992 authorized DOE to grant
financial assistance to Indian tribal governments for
 community-scale energy generating systems or energy
projects that evaluate or adopt energy efficiency and
storage on tribal lands;
renewable energy projects on Indian reservations.
 integrated energy systems independent of the centralized Sections 502 and 503 of EPACT 2005 established IE within
electric power grid; and
DOE. In addition, EPACT 2005 broadened the DOE tribal
financial assistance program to a wider range of energy
 energy infrastructure or integrated energy systems to
projects. This included a grant program to assist tribes in
electrify tribal buildings.
meeting energy-related needs, authorizing appropriations of
$20 million annually for FY2006 through FY2016. The
According to IE’s FY2020 funding opportunity
Energy Act of 2020 (Division Z of P.L. 116-260)
announcement, the selection of projects is “fuel and
reauthorized this program for $30 million annually for
technology neutral” and requires at least a 50% nonfederal
FY2021 through FY2025.
cost share in most cases. From 2010 through 2019, IE
reports its financial assistance totaled nearly $85 million for
In the 115th Congress, the Indian Tribal Energy
more than 180 tribal energy projects, plus cost-shares by
Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of
grant recipients totaling over $95 million.
2017 (P.L. 115-325) made several adjustments to DOE’s
Indian energy programs, including the following changes:
Technical Assistance
IE technical assistance is intended to help overcome
 expanding eligibility for DOE’s tribal energy grant
obstacles or fulfill needs in developing and implementing
program to include intertribal organizations;
tribal energy projects. According to IE, “Current projects
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Indian Energy Programs at the Department of Energy
 expanding program activities to include a broader array
transferred from EERE to IE and was renamed the Indian
of energy development projects, beyond renewable and
Energy Program.
energy efficiency projects;
Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs
 allowing grants to be used to increase the capacity of
Congress first appropriated funding for IE in FY2009. The
tribes to manage energy programs;
Explanatory Statement for the 2009 omnibus appropriations
(P.L. 111-8) included $1.5 million “to establish an Office of
 expanding eligibility for TELGP to include tribal energy
Indian Energy Policy and Programs, as authorized in
development organizations; and
section 502 of the Energy Policy Act of 2005.” Congress
appropriated funding to IE under DOE’s Departmental
 making DOE technical and scientific resources more
Administration (DA) appropriations account.
available for tribal energy activities and projects.
IE formally opened in FY2011 after appointing a Director
Section 8013 of the Energy Act of 2020 also amended
and hiring administrative staff. DOE established IE under
Indian energy programs by allowing the Secretary to reduce
the Office of Congressional & Intergovernmental Affairs
any required cost share for grants from 50% to 10%.
(CIO). Until FY2021, IE received its funding through CIO,
which is funded through the DA appropriation. In the
Table 1 lists the authorizing statutes for the Office of
FY2012 budget justification, DOE requested that IE be a
Indian Energy, the Tribal Energy Program, and the Tribal
separate funding category within DA.
Energy Loan Guarantee Program.
In its FY2015 budget justification, DOE proposed to move
Table 1. Department of Energy Indian Energy
IE out of the DA account and establish it as a stand-alone
Programs and Authorizing Legislation
office with a separate appropriations account. At the same
time, DOE proposed to transfer EERE’s TEP to the newly
Authorizing
Subsequent
separated office and proposed to consolidate IE and TEP
Program Name
Legislation
Amendments
under the same appropriations account for the first time. In
Tribal Energy
P.L. 102-486, Title
P.L. 109-58, Title
the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations
Program
XXVI, Sec. 2606
V, Sec. 503
Act of 2015 (P.L. 113-235), Congress eliminated funding
for TEP within EERE and provided funding to TEP only
Office of Indian
P.L. 109-58, Title
P.L. 115-325, Title
under the consolidated IE office, which remained within the
Energy Policy and
V, Sec. 502 & 503
I, Sec. 101, 104,
DA appropriations account.
Programs
105; P.L. 116-260,
Division Z, Sec.
For FY2016, FY2017, and FY2018, Congress continued to
8013
fund IE through the DA account. Congress provided a
Tribal Energy Loan P.L. 109-58, Title
P.L. 115-325, Title
separate appropriations account for IE for the first time in
Guarantee
V, Sec. 503
I, Sec. 101
the FY2019 appropriations act (P.L. 115-244), and has
continued that practice through FY2021.
Program
Source: P.L. 102-486; P.L. 109-58; P.L. 115-325; P.L. 116-260.
Policy Considerations
Notes: P.L. 102-486 = Energy Policy Act of 1992; P.L. 109-58 =
Congress remains interested in the implementation and
Energy Policy Act of 2005; P.L. 115-325 = Indian Tribal Energy
effectiveness of these energy programs for Indian tribes and
Development and Self-Determination Act Amendments of 2017; P.L.
Alaska Native villages. As no loan guarantees have been
116-260 Division Z = Energy Act of 2020. In FY2015, the Tribal
made under TELGP, some stakeholders have questioned
Energy Program (now Indian Energy Program) was transferred from
whether DOE is conducting sufficient outreach to eligible
the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy to the Office of
parties or whether the program is needed. Proposals to
Indian Energy Policy and Programs.
reform the TELGP range from eliminating the remaining
loan authority and rescinding some appropriations to
Administrative History
expanding eligibility and authorizing appropriations
through 2030. The Trump Administration FY2021 budget
Tribal Energy Program
request proposed reductions in tribal energy grants and
From FY1994 through FY2003, DOE administered
technical assistance, contending unnecessary program
financial assistance to tribes for energy projects under
expenses could be eliminated while improving overall
activities with various names, including Tribal Energy
effectiveness. The Biden Campaign stated support for
Grants, Tribal Energy Assistance, and Renewable Indian
“tribal efforts to shift to clean energy production and use.”
Energy Resources. After FY2003, DOE established the
The Biden Administration not yet proposed a FY2022
Tribal Energy Program (TEP) (sometimes referred to as
budget.
“Tribal Energy Activities”). The TEP operated within the
Weatherization and Intergovernmental Activities of the
Corrie E. Clark, Analyst in Energy Policy
Office of the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable
Mark Holt, Specialist in Energy Policy
Energy (EERE). Following the establishment of IE in
EPACT 2005, the TEP continued to operate separately and
IF11793
receive funding through EERE. In FY2015, the TEP


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Indian Energy Programs at the Department of Energy


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