Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
Director of Donor Resources
Senior Director of Communications
Earlier today, former President Bill Clinton and leaders from six Sioux Indian Tribes announced a new wind power initiative that will harness South Dakota’s greatest natural resource and spur long-term development in the economically-depressed region. The initiative was announced as a Clinton Global Initiative Commitment to Action during the 2013 Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) meeting—an annual event that brings together leaders from the business, foundation, and government sectors in an effort to promote economic growth in the United States.
The Tribes’ initiative comes at a time when renewable energy investment is increasingly a national priority. Through the project, the Tribes stand to infuse up to $3 billion directly into the South Dakota economy, an amount roughly equal to the impact of the entire manufacturing sector in South Dakota in a given year. The planned project could generate 1-2 Gigawatts of power annually. Measured conservatively, that’s more than enough power to electrify the homes in Denver, Colorado for the next 20 years, the typical useful life span of the wind turbines. The majority of the project’s funding will come through the sale of bonds by a Multi-Tribal Power Authority. The bonds are expected to be available to investors in about two years, following a critical planning and preparation stage.
During the closing discussion at CGI America, the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, and Yankton Sioux Tribe joined President Clinton on stage to announce their plans. Commitment-makers believe that harnessing the plentiful wind resources through a tribally-owned, cooperative, and systematic effort represents the best opportunity to spur economic growth and self-sustainability among the Tribes, which have suffered from generational poverty and significant social and economic challenges.
Already several years in the making, the project is supported by numerous consultants, foundations, and other stakeholders. Significant pro bono support has come from the law firm Arent Fox LLP, in Washington, DC, where former Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) (former Chair of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs and the Senate Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development), now co-chairs the Arent Fox Government Relations practice. Other supporters include Herron Consulting LLC, the Intertribal Council on Utility Policy, the LIATI Group, the Bush Foundation, and the Northwest Area Foundation.
Significant support and funding will be needed over the next two years before the project will be ready to break ground and the bonds ready for sale. For this reason, the Tribes are giving everyone an opportunity to join them on their journey. Turning to the power of technology, the Tribes have partnered with the crowdfunding platform Rally.org to seek funding and raise general awareness of the project. Individuals may visit rally.org/siouxwind to join in and follow the developments of the project.
“Crowdfunding has evolved as a way for communities to solve large-scale problems and improve people’s lives,” said Tom Serres, CEO and co-founder of Rally.org. “Rally is thrilled to support the Tribes in this first step toward expanding their economies by leveraging their capacity to develop sustainable energy. The Sioux Wind Project will demonstrate that community-support and community-funding can help push renewable-energy projects forward.”
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, a nonprofit philanthropic services firm that currently advises on and manages more than $280 million in annual giving, is also pitching in by providing strategic counsel and incubating the project until the new power authority is created. “Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors works with projects whose mission and values are aligned with our own focus on thoughtful, effective giving,” said Melissa Berman, president and CEO of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, “RPA is honored to partner with the participating Sioux Tribes in this project, which brings an innovative approach to a major challenge and the potential for great impact.”
Commenting on the project, Senator Dorgan said, “Having served as Chairman of the Indian Affairs Committee in the U. S. Senate, I understand the strong desire of the Indian Tribes to build “Indian owned” wind power projects to create new jobs and affordable power for their tribes.” said Senator Dorgan. “This project is a unique opportunity for the Sioux Tribes in South Dakota to build new opportunities and chart their own destiny. They live on lands that are rich with wind resources and they can use those resources to build a large wind energy project that can both help the tribe and produce clean, renewable power for our country for decades to come. Together with my colleagues at Aren’t Fox LLP I’ve been honored to work with elected leaders of the tribes to plan this project and I’m especially proud of the recognition given it today by President Clinton and the Clinton Global Initiative.”
About CGI America
The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), an initiative of the Clinton Foundation, convenes global leaders to create and implement innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. Established in June 2011 by President Bill Clinton, the Clinton Global Initiative America (CGI America) addresses economic recovery in the United States. CGI America brings together leaders in business, government, and civil society to generate and implement commitments to create jobs, stimulate economic growth, foster innovation, and support workforce development in the United States. Since its first meeting, CGI America participants have made more than 200 commitments valued at $13.4 billion when fully funded and implemented. To learn more, visit cgiamerica.org.
CGI also convenes an Annual Meeting, which brings together global leaders to take action and create positive social change, CGI University (CGI U), which brings together undergraduate and graduate students to address pressing challenges in their community or around the world, and, this year, CGI Latin America, which will bring together Latin American leaders to identify, harness, and strengthen ways to improve the livelihoods of people in Latin America and around the world. For more information, visit clintonglobalinitiative.org and follow us on Twitter @ClintonGlobal and Facebook at facebook.com/clintonglobalinitiative
About the Participating Sioux Tribes
The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, Crow Creek Sioux Tribe, Oglala Sioux Tribe, Rosebud Sioux Tribe, Sisseton-Wahpeton Oyate, and Yankton Sioux Tribe each are independently recognized Tribes that are part of the Great Sioux Nation. Together, the tribes cover 16% of the total land area of South Dakota, and have the capacity to develop as much as 58 gigawatts of power while producing zero emissions.
About Arent Fox LLP
Arent Fox LLP, founded in 1942, is internationally recognized in core practice areas where business and government intersect. With more than 350 lawyers, the firm provides strategic legal counsel and multidisciplinary solutions to clients that range from Fortune 500 corporations to trade associations. The firm has offices in Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, DC. arentfox.com
About the Bush Foundation
The Bush Foundation’s mission is to be a catalyst for the courageous leadership necessary to create sustainable solutions to tough public problems and ensure community vitality. The Foundation was established in 1953 by 3M executive Archibald Bush and his wife, Edyth, and today works in communities across Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and the 23 Native nations that share the same geographic area. bushfoundation.org
About Herron Consulting
Established in 2009, Herron Consulting LLC provides project management, market analysis, business development and grant writing services to clients in the financial services, telecommunications and renewable energy sectors, with a focus on economic development for Native American Tribes.
About the Intertribal Council On Utility Policy
The Intertribal Council On Utility Policy was formed in 1994 to provide a forum for the discussion of utility issues among tribes. The Council has representatives from fifteen Tribes located in the Northern Plains, including South Dakota, North Dakota, Wyoming and Nebraska. intertribalcoup.org
About the LIATI Group
The LIATI Group is a boutique merchant banking firm in New York focusing on customized assignments in corporate, municipal and project financings. The firm provides consulting and capital raising services for clients seeking institutional capital to fund their development, growth and expansion. The firm also provides a range of advisory and placement services for private equity funds and for the portfolio companies of these funds. liatigroup.com
About the Northwest Area Foundation
The Northwest Area Foundation is dedicated to supporting efforts by the people, organizations and communities to reduce poverty and achieve sustainable prosperity. The Foundation’s region includes the eight states of Minnesota, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon and more than 70 sovereign Tribal Nations that share the same geography. The Great Northern Railway, founded by James J. Hill, operated in this area. Hill’s son, Louis W. Hill, established the Foundation in 1934. nwaf.org
Rally.org is an easy-to-use storytelling platform that’s designed to empower anyone to fundraise and build social awareness on a large scale. To date, Rally has enabled over 25,000 individuals and organizations to share and broadcast their passions, provide solutions to problems, leverage social networks, and mobilize communities. rally.org
About Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors
Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors (RPA) is a nonprofit organization that currently advises on and manages more than $280 million in annual giving by individuals, families, corporations, and major foundations. Headquartered in New York City with offices in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago, it traces its antecedents to John D. Rockefeller, Sr., who in 1891 began to professionally manage his philanthropy “as if it were a business.” With thoughtful and effective philanthropy as its only mission, RPA has grown into one of the world’s largest philanthropic service organizations and, as a whole, has facilitated more than $3 billion in grantmaking to nearly 70 countries. rockpa.org