A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held this week as the Cherokee Nation headquartered in Tahlequah formally opened its first tribal solar canopy car charging station.
It is also the first such charging station to be built by a tribe in the state. The station is located in the main parking lot of the W.W. Keeler Tribal Complex and is capable of charging up to eight electric vehicles. It provides about 58,000 kilowatt hours of electricity to the tribal complex a year which is equivalent to the amount of electricity needed to power three or more homes.
“Embracing solar panels and adding electric vehicles to our fleet is consistent with Cherokee Nation’s leadership in clean-energy usage and carbon-footprint reduction,” Cherokee Nation Principal Chief Bill John Baker said. “Cherokee Nation is the first tribal government in Oklahoma to build and utilize a solar canopy like this.”
He called it another example of the tribe being “good stewards of the land”.
The charging station cost about $300,000 and was built in a partnership between the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Cherokee Nation.
“The new solar canopy provides a convenient power source for electric vehicles and also provides clean power to the Cherokee Nation complex,” said Cherokee Nation Secretary of Natural Resources Sara Hill. “I’m proud that Cherokee Nation is able to provide this option to our employees and citizens while also honoring our obligation to act as good stewards of our natural resources.”
The Cherokee Nation purchased its first two 100-percent electric-powered Nissan Leaf compact cars in October. The Leafs can travel about 107 miles on one charge and produce zero emissions.
Following Tuesday’s ribbon-cutting, the tribe hosted a ride-and-drive event. Aside from test-driving the new Nissan Leafs, employees were invited to drive electric vehicles owned by OG&E and Auffenberg Chevrolet in Muskogee.
The solar canopy and addition of electric vehicles to the Cherokee Nation fleet are part of the tribe’s recent initiative to reduce carbon emissions. Other environmentally friendly initiatives include the tribe leasing land to a company for the development of a wind energy farm on Cherokee Nation trust land in Kay County.
Cherokee Nation News Release