Alaskan Native tribal non-profit wins $1.5 m grant for geothermal project

Alaskan Native tribal non-profit wins $1.5 m grant for geothermal project Pilgrim Hot Springs, Alaska (source: Pilgrim Hot Springs/Unaatuq LLC via Facebook)
Alexander Richter 21 Mar 2022

Nome, Alaska-based native tribal corporation Kawerak has won $1.5 million in federal funding for its planned geothermal power and heating project at Pilgrim Hot Springs in Alaska, U.S.

Several tribal communities around the U.S. have received a total of $9 million in federal grant funding for renewable projects, as announced by the U.S. Department of Energy today.

Kawerak, Inc., a tribal non-profit in Nome, Alaska, is seeking to revitalize Pilgrim Hot Springs by providing stable electricity to the area. Kawerak will install an Organic Rankine Cycle system using local geothermal resources at Pilgrim Hot Springs to electrify and heat 18 existing tribal buildings, a water well, a water pump house, and two bathing pools, allowing economic development of this historic site located 60 miles north of Nome, Alaska. The award amount for the project by the U.S. DOE was $1,524,376.

The Alaska Center for Energy and Power (ACEP) developed options using wind, solar, and geothermal power production.  The Alaska Microgrid Group provided a summary economic analysis of the options and a presentation format to allow Kawerak and its potential grant-makers to compare the choices. The work prioritized geothermal electric production for its long-term development impact on the hot springs property.

Pilgrim Hot Springs is located on the Seward Peninsula in western Alaska and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It is considered one of the highest potential geothermal resources in the state. It is owned by Unaatuq, LLC, a consortium of seven local organizations based in the Bering Straits region.

Kawerak is a managing partner of Unaatuq, and is organized as a tribally owned and operated non-profit serving the residents and communities of the Bering Straits region.

Source: Alaska Microgrid Group, Buffalo News

Note: A previous version of this article referred to Kawerak as a “corporation”, while in fact it is a “tribal non-profit”.