http://www.cherokeephoenix.orgA map of the Cherokee Nation’s property around the old Chilocco Indian Boarding School in Kay County in central Oklahoma. CNB WIND PROJECT PRESENTATION
A map of the Cherokee Nation’s property around the old Chilocco Indian Boarding School in Kay County in central Oklahoma. CNB WIND PROJECT PRESENTATION

Tribe pushes forward with wind farm

BY JAMI MURPHY
Former Reporter
05/24/2013 08:58 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – During the past 10 years, the Cherokee Nation and Cherokee Nation Businesses have considered entering the wind energy business. On May 13, Tribal Councilors authorized the tribe to move forward on a wind farm project in Kay County.

The authorization allows tribal officials to enter into leases with PNE Wind USA for the placement of 90 turbines on 6,000 acres, 3,000 of which is CN-owned, near the former Chilocco Indian Agricultural School. The tribe is expected to earn approximately $16 million in 20 years.

History of Chilocco Wind Farm

According to tribal documents, the wind farm was conceived as a Cherokee project, but CNB did not pursue it alone. After discussions with possible developers, CNB selected PNE Wind USA, a North American subsidiary of PNE Wind in Germany.

“PNE was the only developer not to require CNB to pay up-front for the evaluation and development of the project,” tribal documents state. “A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between PNE and CNB to develop the Chilocco Wind Project in September 2010.”

From 2003-09, CNB received from the Energy and Interior departments approximately $581,000 for predevelopment of a wind farm. In 2010, CNB received a grant from the Energy Department totaling $990,550. According to documents, CNB has received $1.57 million in federal grants for the project.
In addition to the grants, CNB has spent $588,000 on the project, while PNE has spent $1.26 million.

Documents show that on Jan. 11 CNB contacted Cimarron Power Ventures to review project agreements and provide recommendations. CPV is a consulting subsidiary of Walters Power International LLC in Oklahoma City. Former Oklahoma Gov. David Walters owns WPI.

According to tribal documents, the review resulted in an increase in CN’s returns beyond those anticipated when the Tribal Council voted to approve the project and two types of leases on Dec. 10. CNB and CN officials reviewed the findings and CPV followed up with the council’s Resource Committee on March 11.

CNB hired former Principal Chief Ross Swimmer as a government relations officer in 2009. During that time he helped develop business opportunities, one being the wind project.

“I worked on probably $30 to $50 million worth of business development that came into the businesses,” Swimmer said. “As I was doing that though, I was made aware of this particular project by a lady named Carol Wyatt. Carol had actually worked a little bit with the Kaw Nation that owns a tract of land at Chilocco back in about 2000 or 2001. And the Kaw had decided that they would like to do a wind farm on their portion of the Chilocco land. At that time there really wasn’t any federal money to do renewable energy. Carol had brought that idea with her to Cherokee Nation Businesses when she was hired as a technician there and said you know ‘maybe this is something the Cherokee Nation would like to pursue or Cherokee Nation Businesses.”

Swimmer said he’s glad to hear the tribe is continuing with the wind farm but voiced concern that the project has moved from CNB to CN.

“The one major advantage that we have always had, and I started it in the 1970s, is to insure that there is a bright line between business and politics,” he said. “And when that bright line gets blurred and we see business kind of going directly to the Cherokee Nation and visa versa then that can cause problems. I would rather see the project developed strictly as a business opportunity with CNB and managed over the years and frankly that CNB would own it.”

According to tribal documents, CN requested that it rather CNB be the contracting party so that all proceeds go directly to CN upon achieving commercial operations and the sale of the investors. CN therefore retains 100 percent of the proceeds and not a 35 percent cash dividend, documents state.
“This transition will also simplify the contracting since CN has the leases and CNB had the development agreements,” documents state.

With the current project setup, the tribe expects to make a $16 million in 20 years for its General Fund, records show.

Project Ownership

According to tribal documents, PNE Wind USA owns Chilocco Wind Farm LLC, which is the special purpose vehicle used as the project’s development entity.

Phase 1 of the project calls for CWF holding the ground and wind resource leases from CN. Phase 2 involves PNE holding similar leases issued by the Ponca, Pawnee, Kaw and Otoe-Missouri tribes that cover their portions of the Chilocco lands.

PNE will sell the project to investors after its completion and it has achieved commercial operations. Documents state that PNE guarantees the project’s construction and performance and may stay on as operator but not as an owner. Owners of CWF will include General Electric Finance Corp., as the tax equity investor. So far an equity investor has not been signed onto the project. A final participant includes the banks and investors that are loaning the debt portion of the project’s financing.

Debt financing extends over a 31-year period. Except for debt service requirements, GE and the pension fund will take 99 percent of the available tax earnings and cash flow in the early years, with the equity owner entitled to 1 percent of the cash flow. Once their investment is repaid, plus their margin, GE and the owner will flip positions, with GE earning 1 percent of the cash flows and the equity owner earning 99 percent. Debt service requirements will be paid out of total cash flows before payout to GE or the equity owner. The equity owner will own 99 percent of the project once GE and the pension fund achieve payout, with GE owning 1 percent.

Later, there may be an opportunity for CN to take on ownership of the project. According to tribal documents, “CPV is currently reviewing the option of CN borrowing the equity required to own the project, recourse only to the project, and have the equity loan retired from the tax savings that result from CN’s ownership.”

“This is still in the exploration stage. As an overview, PNE has offered CN the opportunity to own 99 percent of CWP, which includes both Phases 1 and 2,” documents state. “If CWP’s project finance structure is as outlined above, CN would own 99 percent of CWP but initially only have a claim to 1 percent of the cash flows.”

If that occurs, after 10 years, when GE and the equity loan are fully repaid, plus margin, CN would be entitled to 99 percent of the cash flows and see significant earnings materialize. The financial forecasts suggests that this type of ownership would generate approximately $200 million over 20 years with a net present value (discounted at 10 percent) of approximately $42 million, documents state.

Tribal Councilor Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the current deal, estimated at $16 million for the tribe, was better than previous deals considered by the Nation and probably the best deal it could get.

“I can tell you that one of the reasons the council took as long as it did to get to this point…is that there was a lot of discussion about improving the deal, and it has improved,” Hoskin said. “So I do think that we’ve got really the best deal we can get.”

The legislation that passed earlier on May 13 included a limited waiver of sovereignty that was necessary, Hoskin said, to allow Chilocco Wind Farm LLC to bring action if the tribe defaulted under its lease terms.

If a claim were brought against the tribe, it would allow Chilocco Wind Farm LLC to access the Chilocco lands to retrieve its possessions, Hoskin said.

Hoskin said this is a great venture for the tribe because it allows it to use an under-utilized resource.

“The land we have out in the Chilocco area, number one, it’s a good use of our resources which we should always improve upon. Number two, it makes us a leader in renewable energy,” he said. “This will be the largest wind power project of any tribe in the U.S., and it’s really fitting that Cherokee Nation be a leader on this. We are leaders in so many areas. Why shouldn’t we be a leader in renewable energy while at the same time generating millions of dollars for the people?”

Hoskin said there is not presently a plan in place to deliver the electric to the tribe or any of its entities. The power would be fed into the power grid for power companies to utilize and purchase.

jami-custer@cherokee.org


918-453-5560

News

BY TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
05/18/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – Cherokee Nation citizens living outside the tribe’s 14-county jurisdiction are eligible for free one-year subscriptions of the Cherokee Phoenix thanks to a $10,000 disbursement from the principal chief’s office on behalf of At-Large Tribal Councilors Mary Baker Shaw and Wanda Hatfield. The Cherokee Phoenix recently received the funds and is taking names on a first-come, first-served basis until the money is depleted. “These funds that have been provided to the Cherokee Phoenix by the joint efforts of our tribal administration and our At-Large (Tribal) Councilors Mary Baker Shaw and Wanda Hatfield will go a long way in providing subscriptions to at-large citizens,” Executive Editor Brandon Scott said. “It has always been our goal here at the Phoenix to make sure that every citizen that wants a copy of the Cherokee Phoenix is able to get one. That is the sole reason we exist. Our success depends on our subscribers. Our ability to remain independent relies solely on the funds we receive from subscriptions, so these funds are not only assisting at-large citizens they are also assisting us in remaining independent. I’d personally like to thank Councilors Baker and Shaw as well as the administration for making this donation possible.” Scott added that there are no restrictions on receiving a free subscription other than living outside the CN jurisdiction and being a CN citizen. Using the fund, at-large CN citizens can apply to receive a free one-year subscription by visiting, calling or writing the Cherokee Phoenix office and requesting a subscription. The Cherokee Phoenix office is located in the Annex Building on the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex. The postal address is Cherokee Phoenix, P.O. Box 948, Tahlequah, OK 74465. To call about the fund, call 918-207-4975 or 918-453-5269 or email <a href="mailto: justin-smith@cherokee.org">justin-smith@cherokee.org</a> or <a href="mailto: joy-rollice@cherokee.org">joy-rollice@cherokee.org</a>. The Cherokee Phoenix also has a free website, <a href="http://www.cherokeephoenix.org" target="_blank">www.cherokeephoenix.org</a>, that posts news seven days a week about the Cherokee government, people, history and events of interest. The monthly newspaper is also posted in PDF format to the website at the beginning of each month. Cherokee Nation Businesses in November donated $10,000 to the Cherokee Phoenix’s Elder/Veteran Fund, which provides free subscriptions of its monthly newspaper to elders and/or military veterans who are CN citizens. No income guidelines have been specified for the Cherokee Phoenix Elder/Veteran Fund, and free subscriptions will be given as long as funds last. Tax-deductible donations for the fund can also be sent to the Cherokee Phoenix by check or money order specifying the donation for the Cherokee Phoenix Elder/Veteran Fund. Cash is also accepted at the Cherokee Phoenix offices and local events where Cherokee Phoenix staff members are accepting Elder/Veteran Fund donations. Those who donate can also have entries submitted for them into the Cherokee Phoenix’s quarterly artist giveaway. For every $10 donated or spent on Cherokee Phoenix merchandise, a person gets one entry into the quarterly drawing. The next drawing is July 2 when it gives away a two-piece, 12-foot fishing rod donated by Larry Fulton of Larry’s Bait and Tackle in Fort Gibson.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/16/2018 04:00 PM
VINITA – Eleven Cherokee families received keys to their new homes on May 11 after participating in the Housing Authority of the Cherokee Nation’s New Home Construction Program. The 1,350-square-foot brick homes on Miller Street each feature a garage, three bedrooms and two bathrooms. According to Cherokee Nation Communications, $1.1 million was invested into the homes and infrastructure and will provide an estimated $28,000 in impact aid to local schools. CN citizen Candle Melton and her family received one of the new homes. The family of three had lived with her mother, and she said the home is a blessing. “We are so excited to have a brand new house to call our own. This would not have been possible without Cherokee Nation and the New Home Construction Program,” Melton said. “I am definitely proud to be Cherokee and cannot thank Cherokee Nation enough for their investments in our communities and for this wonderful opportunity to become the homeowners of a brand new home.” Principal Chief Bill John Baker implemented the program in 2012. The Vinita home recipients were selected from the HACN’s waiting list of applicants who do not own land. “Helping Cherokees improve their lives by establishing homeownership is creating stronger communities and healthier families in northeast Oklahoma,” Baker said. “We took these acres in Vinita and converted them into a desirable neighborhood of almost a dozen houses. Building safe and secure homes that are affordable for our citizens has established Cherokee Nation’s New Home Construction Program as the unparalleled model of excellence for Indian Country.” Chief of Staff and Vinita native Chuck Hoskin said the homes were the latest in decades of improvements to the area by CN. “In more than 25 years of serving the Cherokee people, I’ve witnessed much progress for this community. These new homes will have a lasting, positive impact,” Hoskin said. The HACN recently received a grant from Bank2 for the home program, which allows the HACN to keep the home recipients’ monthly payment at $350. Schools in the area also benefit from the homes because they receive $2,800 in federal impact aid for each enrolled student who resides in the homes. “The new Miller Street Housing Addition is a major boon for the town of Vinita,” Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez said. “Not only does it help citizens achieve homeownership, it’s also going to bring much-needed revenue to the school system through impact aid dollars.” Along with the homes, the CN also invested more than $100,000 in infrastructure development on Miller Street and within the housing addition. In addition to the 660 homes built through the program, the HACN has nearly 100 more homes under construction in the tribe’s jurisdiction. For more information, visit <a href="http://www.hacn.org" target="_blank">www.hacn.org</a>.
BY KENLEA HENSON
Reporter
05/16/2018 02:45 PM
TAHLEQUAH – During the May 14 Tribal Council meeting, legislators unanimously amended titles 21 and 22 of the Cherokee Code Annotated, regarding the Violence Against Women Act. The amendment “authorizes special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over non-Indians who commit domestic violence, dating violence, or a violation of a protection order.” The amended Title 22, Section 70 gives the Cherokee Nation special domestic violence criminal jurisdiction over a non-Indian defendant under certain circumstances, including if the offender resides or is employed within the CN jurisdiction or is a spouse, intimate partner or dating partner of a CN citizen or Indian who lives within the CN. Tribal Councilor Victoria Vazquez said the act’s impact on women is the knowledge that women will be valued, treated with respect and empowered going forward. “I voted for the VAWA to be enforced because it’s the right thing to do. Cherokee Nation leads all tribes in profitable businesses, education and health care in Native Country, and we should be the leader when it comes to the safety of our women and children,” she said. In conjunction, the Tribal Council also amended Title 12 of the Cherokee Code Annotated regarding the Civil Protective Order Act. The amendment gives the CN District Court full civil jurisdiction to issue and enforce protection orders if an act of domestic violence occurred within the CN boundaries. However, the amendment states that jurisdiction is not authorized over parties who are both non-Indian. The amendment also states the District Court has the authority to enforce any orders by civil contempt proceedings, excluding violators from Indian land and other appropriate procedures in matters that arise within the CN jurisdiction or within CN authority according to CN law. In other business, Councilors authorized the “execution of certain contracts that preserve sovereign immunity,” which allows CN to enter into certain contracts more efficiently. Legislators also passed a resolution accepting land from the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, which will allow permanent access and tribal upkeep of the road entering Sequoyah’s Cabin and Museum in Sequoyah County. The Tribal Council also amended the CN comprehensive operating budget for fiscal year 2018, increasing it by $5.9 million for a total budget of $693.1 million. Steven E. Barrick was also reappointed to the CN Gaming Commission.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/14/2018 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH – The Cherokee Nation’s Office of Veteran Affairs will host a Memorial Day ceremony at 10 a.m. on May 25 at the Warrior Memorial east of the Tribal Complex. According to a CN email, the ceremony will honor the men and women who died while serving our country’s armed forces. The ceremony will include a laying of wreaths, a rifle volley and the playing of “Taps.” A breakfast will follow the ceremony.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/14/2018 12:00 PM
PARK HILL, Okla. — The Cherokee Heritage Center will host gospel performances in Cherokee and English at the 19th annual Gospel Sing on May 19. Performances will begin at 1 p.m. The free event is open to the public, and guests are encouraged to bring chairs. The event concludes at 6 p.m. with a hog fry dinner. For more information, call Becky Adair at 918-456-6007, ext. 6160. The CHC is located at 21192 S. Keeler Drive.
BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
05/13/2018 04:00 PM
NORMAN, Okla. (AP) — A Texas school district is trying to recruit teachers with a billboard campaign in Oklahoma, where teacher protests about salary and other education issues recently closed schools across the state. The Fort Worth Independent School District funded the billboards in Oklahoma City, Tulsa, Norman and Stillwater. The Norman Transcript reports the billboards were revealed Monday with the message: "Your future is in a Fort Worth classroom — teacher starting salary $52,000." According to the latest statistics from the National Education Association, the average salary for a teacher starting out in Oklahoma is $31,919. Only Missouri and Montana are lower. Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed legislation last month granting teacher pay hikes of about $6,100 and providing tens of millions of new dollars for public schools. But teachers demand more. Fort Worth Independent School District spokesman Clint Bond said the district is "impressed with the passion and commitment" of Oklahoma's teachers. He said the campaign is a means to tap into a pool of quality teachers and show that Fort Worth has something to offer. "I don't think there's any doubt in anybody's mind that those teachers are passionate about their students," he said. "If they were thinking about moving to somewhere like Fort Worth, I know they would think long and hard about that. Norman Public Schools Superintendent Nick Migliorino said he's familiar with neighboring states' attempts to draw Oklahoma teachers away. "We've been dealing with this for many years now," said Migliorino. "When we go to job fairs, the bordering states, not just Texas, have booths there, and they're giving out large signing bonuses and starting salaries that we can't even touch with decades of experience." He said Oklahoma has a ways to go before it can compete in the market for teachers. "We have made incredible strides as a state over this last legislative session, but there's much more to do," Migliorino said.