NREL Tribal Program Program Manager in Golden, Colorado
Tribal Program Program Manager
CO - Golden
Limited Term (Fixed Term)
Hours Per Week
The Program Manager will work with a strong team to advance a first-of-its-kind program to empower tribal nations to develop grid-scale renewables for economic benefit. Tribal lands represent more than five percent of the U.S. technical potential for renewable energy, yet grid-scale developments on tribal lands face additional, specific challenges in reaching market competitiveness. Compared to developments on private lands, these projects must invest more significantly in due diligence and must navigate significant federal and tribal approvals. Tribal projects often falter in the chasm between feasibility study and notice to proceed. In light of these costly competitive disadvantages, it becomes even more important to assist tribes in developing the capacity to de-risk tribal lands and attract the interest of and investment from developers.
In 2017, the Wells Fargo Foundation (WFF) made a five-year, $50 million commitment to American Indian and Alaska Native communities, with the intent to increase environmental sustainability and empower tribal economies, leaders and culture. WFF has been sponsoring NREL in a pilot providing technical assistance to the Navajo Nation on its proposed 250 megawatt Paragon Bisti Ranch solar project in northwest New Mexico.
The Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center partnership with WFF is now launching a six-month effort to:
Continue pilot work to provide technical support to the Navajo Nation as it prepares to release a Request for Proposals to a qualified developer pool and related activities to de-risk project sites and advance entitlements;
Provide technical support to the Hopi Tribe as it begins a process to issue Request for Qualifications/Proposals and further de-risk project sites and permitting requirements to develop 100 megawatts of solar on tribal lands;
Develop an economic opportunity study for grid-scale renewables on tribal lands across the lower-48;
Conduct nation-wide, invite-only listening sessions with tribes ready to consider grid-scale renewables for economic development and develop a critical gap-analysis.
This body of work will culminate in recommendations to WFF on a multi-year, multi-million-dollar program to economically empower tribes through the development of grid-scale renewables. This new effort expands on the existing NREL-WFF IN2 partnership, a $30 million effort to accelerate early-stage clean technologies.
The Program Manager’s leadership is critical to the tribal program in order to help develop and de-risk tribal utility-scale projects as they seek to secure interest from developers as well as to identify other potential foundation partners to collaborate with and further build out program offerings. This position will be primarily responsible to pilot a program that will help Wells Fargo Foundation meet its commitment to support economic growth, diversity and inclusion and environmental sustainability for communities across Indian Country.
Work with key NREL staff, tribal staff and tribal leadership to scope and execute key pilot activities in order to develop and de-risk Navajo and Hopi solar projects while building internal tribal capacity
Coordinate with NREL technical staff to research and create a grid-scale economic opportunity analysis for tribes
Oversee a subcontractor to plan, facilitate and synthesize tribal listening sessions
Develop a critical gap-analysis
Lead relationships and presentations to WFF and other key stakeholders
Manage identified Innovation & Entrepreneurship Center staff to achieve programmatic objectives
Ensure all program projects remain on track and on budget
Promote the program within the tribal community
Relevant PhD or equivalent relevant education/experience. Or, relevant Master's Degree and 3 or more years of experience or equivalent relevant education/experience. Or, relevant Bachelor's Degree and 5 or more years of experience or equivalent relevant education/experience.
Experience with writing and publishing peer-reviewed technical reports
Advanced understanding and application of project management principles, concepts, practices and standards.
Advanced knowledge of technical field and related disciplines.
Contributes to the development of new principles and concepts.
Excellent interpersonal, conflict resolution, teaming and communication skills.
The ideal candidate for this role would have a well-rounded technical background, experience in utility-scale renewable energy site development and familiarity with working with tribal nations, especially the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribe. This candidate will have strong communications skills, business acumen, and program management experience. The ideal candidate is an influential leader with a knack for getting things done. The candidate will earn the trust of stakeholders, including NREL staff, industry, tribes and funders.
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The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is a leader in the U.S. Department of Energy’s effort to secure an environmentally and economically sustainable energy future. With locations in Golden and Boulder, Colorado, and a satellite office in Washington, D.C., NREL is the primary laboratory for research, development, and deployment of renewable energy technologies in the United States.
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