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Navajo community banking on proposed solar array

This March 13, 2012 photo shows the border of the Navajo community of To'Hajiilee, N.M. The community has received funding from the U.S. Department of Energy's Tribal Energy Program for a planned 30-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant. Once constructed, the plant stands to be the largest photovoltaic array on tribal land in the U.S. This March 13, 2012 photo shows the border of the Navajo community of To'Hajiilee, N.M. The community has received funding from the U.S. Department of Energy's Tribal Energy Program for a planned 30-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant. Once constructed, the plant stands to be the largest photovoltaic array on tribal land in the U.S. (AP Photo/Susan Montoya Bryan)
By Susan Montoya Bryan
Associated Press / April 26, 2012
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TO'HAJIILEE, N.M.—A dusty desert plot in central New Mexico is where leaders of a sparsely populated American Indian community envision a sea of solar panels capable of producing electricity for thousands of homes miles away from their reservation.

The To'Hajiilee (Toe-hajee-lee) solar project is one of 19 energy projects that will share in $6.5 million recently awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy to spur renewable energy development on tribal lands.

About two-thirds of the money is earmarked for tribes in the West. Most of that will go toward projects in New Mexico and Arizona.

This year's grants come as Congress considers new measures aimed at reducing the bureaucratic hurdles tribes face in developing their resources. Experts say a wealth of untapped potential is at stake.

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