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Frank A. Douglass Insurance Agency

MICARES advising tribes on renewable energy

The MICARES project partners with communities, and especially tribal groups, to help them tackle the transition to renewable energy. Associate Vice President of Research Development Kathy Halvorson says that when dealing with organizations like the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community she finds it helpful to adopt an approach that fits within existing culture.

New technologies like solar, wind, etc. we think of it as a technological, or technical process, but our team believes it is much more complicated than that. It includes understanding the groups of people who are making decisions, what’s important to them.

She likens a renewable energy project to the medicine wheel.

That it doesn’t necessarily start at a clear point and it doesn’t necessarily end at a clear point. You may be going through the process again and again. And so we conceive of this process as starting from thinking about what’s important to communities as they make these decision, and then thinking about what’s possible.

Planning renewable energy projects falls into six steps on the medicine wheel. Halvorson says arming groups with decision tools is the best way to ensure that they come to the most appropriate conclusion for their particular situation. Those tools are sharpened by the holistic approach described above. MICARES is advising tribes across the UP, and communities like Gratiot County.

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