The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe goes solar

An image of sovereignty in the Colorado high desert.

  • The Ute Mountain Ute tribe invested over one million dollars in the solar project (funds from Animas-La Plata Water Rights Settlement). The U.S. Department of Energy Office of Indian Energy matched their investment with a grant.

  • Jesus Lopez-Barcenas helps build the 1.2 megawatt community solar array on the Ute reservation.

  • “The dream would be to pave the way for our sister tribes,” said Denise Lenahan, one of the Ute tribal members installing the 3,500 solar panels. “Once they see the power of renewable energy, how it works, and that it’s attainable, hopefully more tribes will start stepping up too.”

  • "When I was a kid the snow would come up to my waist, now there’s hardly any snow. Now when it snows it’s dried up by noon,” said Judy Hehi, one of the tribal members assisting with installation and construction.

  • “It’s such a huge step for a small tribe in the four corners to make this leap. We give back to our people through this project, but this is not just for us, this is for the generations to come,” said Denise Lenahan.

  • In addition to bringing in revenue, an expansion of the current project would provide more tribal members with training and jobs in renewables

  • “We notice all kinds of changes in climate on the reservation,” said Helen Munoz, member of the Ute Mountain Ute tribe. “It never used to get this dry and hot. If the world doesn’t start waking up to these changes and lift their blinders off the rug’s going to be pulled out from under us before it’s too late.”