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Nez Perce Tribe Invested in Solar Energy’s Success

Chantel Greene spoke about efforts during Boise Entrepreneur Week

The Nez Perce (Nimiipuu) tribe is invested in the future of clean energy in Idaho, believing it can serve the economic and power needs of their sovereign nation. 

Nimiipuu Energy, a tribally-owned energy company, is working toward eliminating the Tribe’s energy purchased from outside sources, according to executive director, Jesse Leighton. 

“Our plan is to install a variety of energy projects that will total 500+ Megawatts by 2027,”Jesse Leighton said in a May 2022 news release. “In addition, we are a utility cooperative dedicated to implementing 5+ Gigawatts of alternatively produced power throughout Indian Country.”

Adding reliability to solar means having a virtual power plant (VPP) network of distributed power, generating units and/or storage systems that can be interconnected through software management. While each system can be independently owned and operated, the VPP network is controlled centrally allowing dispersed resources to respond to energy supply and demand. 

As of May, Nimiipuu Energy completed three solar installations and four other projects are underway. The company is also working on residential home projects located on the Nez Perce Reservation.

“Our goal is to produce 500+ Megawatts and become completely self-reliant for energy,” Leighton said. “The ultimate objective now, is to provide this opportunity to other tribes by offering assistance to develop and implement their own systems that can interconnect with the VPP, creating the largest network of systems in the world.”

Chantel Greene is an enrolled member of the Nez Perce Tribe, who recently spoke on a panel at Boise Entrepreneur Week. Greene is a former tribal Vice-Chairwoman and now the Chief Executive Officer of her own business, Xexus Greene Energy, LLC. 

In 2014 and 2016, Greene was sponsored by the National Science Foundation’s Emerging Researchers and Mentoring Program on Sustainable Housing and Engineering Program at the University of Colorado Boulder. Through the program, she provided six paid internships for Nez Perce Tribal high school students that focused on sustainable engineering research opportunities. Greene has also volunteered through GRID Alternatives, which installs solar panels for underdeveloped communities in the Denver area. 

Today, Xexus Greene Energy connects with solar companies to provide tribal citizens the opportunity to do technical work related to renewable energy development. This includes resiliency planning, and workforce development and more creating job opportunities in construction and solar installation for tribal members, Greene said. She also works outside of the tribe, but her focus is to build bridges between tribes and others interested in preserving and protecting natural resources to stop climate change. 

Greene said she believes education is the key to making solar energy more mainstream on her reservation and in Idaho and beyond. 

“I want Nez Perce members to have a hand in making an impact on something they care about, protecting our resources, and doing it through hands-on learning,” Greene said. 

Through her work, Greene has been able to introduce eight women to the solar industry. She believes that marketing how solar, geothermal, hydrogen, and other types of clean energy can work together are key to convincing the public. She’s also working on a curriculum for Lewis and Clark State College and just needs the funding for instructors to make a renewable energy program come to life. To learn more, email

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