Skip to content

Chantel Greene Connects Tribes, Developers to Chart a Sustainable Future for Idaho

In recent conversations about clean energy development in Idaho, many people — both those who support and oppose green energy — have brought up the question: What do Idaho’s tribal nations think about renewable energy development? 

We are proud to have Chantel Greene serve as one of Idaho Energy Freedom’s advisory council members because of her extensive history of working in clean energy and as a leader of her tribe, the Nez Perce. 

Greene owns and operates Xexus Greene Energy, LLC, which builds renewable energy projects, offers workforce training, guides and conducts development research, and assists in grant writing and resiliency planning for tribal communities and developers looking to develop on tribal lands. She was also recently named President at Sidney Resource Corporation, a mining and exploration company that prides itself on developing transformative technology for the future of mining and health of our planet. In her presentation to the Advisory Council in late April, Greene shared that her professional mission also serves as a cornerstone in her family — a cultural way of life.

Greene’s Journey to Clean Energy

After getting her education in the Midwest where she learned about sustainable engineering practices and renewable energy, Greene dedicated her career to protecting and preserving our cultural resources and conservation work. Greene brought many experiences and national best practices back home to the Pacific Northwest and Idaho. This has allowed her to help rural communities, including the Nez Perce Reservation, which she calls home, champion renewable energy projects and foment workforce training to support those projects. 

Greene has served in tribal politics, including as vice chair of the tribal council. Through that role, she removed bureaucratic hurdles and instead promoted community education about the benefits of renewable energy and broadband connectivity for her tribe and the wider region. She led the Climate Change and Energy Subcommittee to help the tribe attract and build out renewable energy initiatives, including battery storage and virtual power plants. 

Greene’s background installing solar panels and then certifying solar installers laid the groundwork for her tribe’s workforce development program, where today, about 50 people are learning everything from how to be an installation technician to electrical journeyman and everything in between. Many members of the tribe are also focusing on sharing traditional ecological knowledge, such as designing and utilizing sustainable methodologies to help address increased rates of climate change, supply and demands, technology, business and behavior. 

Looking Forward

In her role as President of Sidney Resource Corporation, she works with a portfolio of companies raising capital for mining and renewable energy projects, filling the supply chain for all aspects of renewable energy projects. 

Greene, who proudly prioritizes public education in all her work, noted that people generally think they can either be against mining or for renewable energy, but not both. The technology used in mining has advanced substantially in recent years, using new laser technology for engineering. Mining has also prioritized better protecting the environment through higher quality standards, particularly for water pollution. Some mining companies have adopted ESGs (environmental, social and governance impact standards) and are self-selecting to adhere to higher sustainability standards than what is required by law, including lower emissions and seeking to reverse the effects of climate change or human causations that are affecting our natural and cultural resources and our way of life. Greene noted Sidney Resource Corporation’s vision is to help all entities that seek sustainability, and to build their resiliency,  self-sufficiency, and independence, and promote partnership and collaboration to create workforce to secure developmental opportunities among different trades.

Barriers to Energy Development

Despite various funding opportunities and incentives for renewable energy projects, Greene said the state government is easier to navigate than the federal government. A large majority of companies, organizations, and tribes, have put millions of dollars into restoration, Greene said. In order to launch a renewable energy project, developers have high bars for technical reporting, feasibility reports and appraisals, which all have to take place before an energy project can happen. 

Greene said that in addition to those high bars, cash flow is a major issue, particularly for Native American-owned businesses. Direct loan programs can help, but can also be very frustrating to navigate. Greene’s business helps organizations do their due diligence and lay the technical groundwork to get access to the funding needed for renewable energy programs. Connecting developers and funders to tribal communities — building those partnerships and trust — is huge, she said, and rooted in issues of economic and tribal sovereignty, as well as respecting traditional ecological knowledge.

Because the Nez Perce is a fishing family and tribe, Greene said her “why” goes back to her tribe’s values, like maintaining fishing rights on the Columbia River. “That’s our culture, so it’s our way of life,” she said. “That’s our tradition. That’s everything for us. So advocating for alternatives to dam removal, [for example], these are the whys. I practice these myself.” 

What’s Next for Greene and Native American Energy Development

Greene is currently working on raising capital for a $510 million virtual power plant that would connect several Native American reservations independent of the major utilities, including allowing Nimiipuu Energy to provide solar and energy storage to connected reservations and independent customers. Right now, there are seven sites and two microgrids that use advanced battery technologies. The goal is to store 5,311 megawatts of solar and wind energy, and by 2027, to create a cooperative to disrupt our current power system on the Lower Snake River dams.

“This is the foundational work toward energy independence, resilience against climate change, and financial self-determination that will improve salmon runs on the Columbia and the Snake Rivers,” Greene said. “This cooperative will include tribal reservations across the westbound grid to form the largest virtual power plant in the United States, deploying solar energy and battery storage on sovereign reservations, paving the way for more renewable energy projects.”

The first step is to create a pathway for installed solar projects connected to the grid that also offers energy storage capabilities.

Thank you for your service to Idaho’s tribal communities and to advancing clean energy development in Idaho, Chantel! 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *