In a second project partnering with nonprofit One Spirit, Everybody Solar, with the support of numerous agencies including Patagonia, Black Hills Solar, Murdock Electric and JinkoSolar installed an 11.16-kW solar array to the Charging Buffalo House (CBH). This site was targeted to reduce One Spirit’s electricity costs in order to increase the sites sustainability and to provide a live example of the value of renewable energy to the community.
Everybody Solar previously installed solar for the Pine Ridge Reservation’s youth centers last year.
“The Buffalo House is one-of-a-kind on the reservation. It is a new facility aiming to increase the consumption of traditional meats to help address the growing rates of diabetes, obesity and other diet-related diseases,” said Jeri Baker, executive director of One Spirit.
Prior to the solar system being active, electric bills were averaging around $224 monthly. In the last few months, since going solar, the average bill has been $14.41. This provides a huge impact in a community-facing vast unemployment and poverty.
“The big savings … definitely helps us to put that money back into our business, hire more people who need the work, also helps us be able to buy equipment needed in the meat cutting industry,” said Bamm Brewer, Buffalo House manager. “Foremost, I would say, the solar power system will help our people to bring back our buffalo to the menu of our food supply. We are trying to bring back the buffalo to our people’s diet and now we have the help of the sun.”
“Each project that Everybody Solar takes on is unique and has the opportunity to address a distinctive need. Working with One Spirit and the Charging Buffalo House has shown us that being connected to solar is not just about financial savings, it’s about closing the circle, allowing self-sufficiency and connection to native roots,” said Myriam Scally, Everybody Solar’s director of operations and development.
The Charging Buffalo House now allows locals to keep their animals on the reservation from beginning to end. Prior to its existence, Buffalo were raised on the reservation but had to be processed off the land, increasing the cost significantly. As the facility continues to grow, more opportunities will exist for locals to be engaged in every part of the process. The site is currently working toward full USDA Certification.
“Commercial operations like the Charging Buffalo House benefit greatly from solar power,” said Sonny Rivers, director of Black Hills Solar. “Electricity is a high ongoing cost for a meat processing operation that requires continuous cooling and hot water. Since commercial operations run during the daytime and more cooling power is needed when the sun is shining, solar panels dramatically
reduce the need for utility power during the day. Ultimately, this is a strategic economic investment in the future of Buffalo House.”
News item from Everybody Solar