In December, 2008, the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians made history and established itself as a leader in Indian Country in the area of renewable energy. The Tribe was the first tribe in Southern California to develop a major solar energy project approved by the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). The Tribe installed a 1.1 megawatt photovoltaic plant on its reservation.
The plant, located on the Augustine Solar Energy Park, produces enough energy to power a significant percentage of the total energy needs of the Tribe’s business operations. In a few short years the project will not only pay for itself, but will also start earning a profit.
The solar energy project represents a major step in achieving the Tribe’s dual goals of becoming self-sufficient, and protecting the Earth’s natural resources. The project is capable of producing 1,900 megawatts of energy annually from its 1,500 solar panels. This is the equivalent to taking more than 200 passenger vehicles off local highways; providing energy for approximately 185 homes; and eliminating an equal amount of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as can be absorbed by a 300-acres pine tree forest.
The Tribe takes its stewardship responsibilities seriously. The solar project protects Grandmother Earth for future generations, and makes good on the old Native American proverb: “we do not inherit the earth from our ancestors, we borrow it from our children."