In 2016, The Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL) Protests began in April 2016 as a grassroots opposition to the construction of Energy Transfer Partners‘ Dakota Access Pipeline in the northern United States and ended on February 23, 2017 when National Guard and law enforcement officers evicted the last remaining protesters. The pipeline runs from the Bakken oil fields in western North Dakota to southern Illinois, crossing beneath the Missouri and Mississippi rivers, as well as under part of Lake Oahe near the Standing Rock Indian Reservation. Many members of the Standing Rock tribe and surrounding communities consider the pipeline to be a serious threat to the region’s water. The construction also directly threatens ancient burial grounds and cultural sites of historic importance. In March 2020, a United States District Judge ruled that the government had not adequately studied the pipeline’s “effects on the quality of the human environment”, and ordered the United States Army Corps of Engineers to conduct a new environmental impact review. In July 2020, a District Court judge issued a ruling for the pipeline to be shut down and emptied of oil pending a new environmental review. The temporary shutdown order was overturned by a U.S. appeals court on August 5 2020, though the environmental review was ordered to continue. Despite significant opposition from tribes and environmental groups, on May 3, 2021, the Army Corps of Engineers announced it would keep the pipeline operational while preparing a court-ordered environmental impact statement (EIS). The draft EIS is now expected in the spring of 2023. The pipeline still lacks a key permit from the Corps to cross under Lake Oahe in South Dakota.
(For details on the current status of the DAPL, click here: https://eelp.law.harvard.edu/2017/10/dakota-access-pipeline/ )
The following is an edited version of the original Sundance Power System’s newsletter story that was originally posted November 2016:
The “Solar Warrior Project,” as the solar and wind generator that was delivered to the Oceti Sakowin Camp in North Dakota is aptly named, is the result of the coming together of many individuals and groups in support of the Sioux Tribe and others protecting water and land from the construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline. Sundance Power Systems was built on the spirit of the warrior, with Chief Billy Tayac of the Piscataway Indian Nation sanctioning the use of the name. We are grateful that we have been able to do our work in bringing clean energy to our community since 1995. In this spirit, we are humbled to offer support to the Tribe with the donation of a renewable energy generator.
Brian Hollister, our Shop & Supply Manager at the time and now our Vice President, was very involved in putting the trailer together. He shared the following powerful reflections at the time: “It was a very rewarding experience building the trailer that we sent out to the Dakota Access Pipeline protest. It is a prime example of how renewable sources of energy can be modular, scalable and adaptable. Power that would normally be provided by a generator using fossil fuels is now being generated using a renewable resource that is mobile. Including a small wind turbine along with the PV system was a great way to take advantage of the wind resources that are available in the Dakotas.”
The support of many is represented in various parts of the system, with the trailer itself, along with the battery bank (sixteen Trojan T105 golf cart batteries for 450 amp hours at 48 volts) having been donated by the Alliance for Energy Democracy. Sundance Power Systems, in addition to providing hours of labor (Thanks Brian & Will Williams!) donated the photovoltaic modules (six 265 watt Hanwha Q-Cell modules for a total capacity of 1.6 kW) and the racking. Two Trace inverters, a power center and a charge controller can be attributed to the generosity of long-standing customer, Ed Rudisill, who donated them after upgrading his off-grid system. Lastly, the addition of the 400 watt Primus Windpower Air 40 turbine was made possible after Mary Frances Little Brave donated $1,000 of the funds that were raised from the Water is Life benefit that was held in Asheville earlier in October 2016.
The trailer was delivered to the camp on November 8, 2016 by a volunteer crew consisting of Andrea Franchini and Scott Golder, who both also put in many hours constructing it, along with Sundance Power systems President & CEO Dave Hollister. It provided power for high-speed internet access and the well-being tent at the camp.
“Our greatest hope is that this additional energy helps sustain the camp through the clashing of forces that they are holding against in protecting their sacred land and life-sustaining systems, along with all of the other forms of support being offered by peoples across the Earth.”
In early 2023, Sundance received an update on the Solar Warrior trailer that was delivered in 2016 to the Sacred Stone Camp on the Standing Rock Reservation that was protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline. The following is a summary, edited from information sent by Ed Reed, a volunteer with the Veteran Service Corps:
“The Solar Warrior Project is a gift that keeps on giving, planting seeds of prosperity wherever she tags along.”
“The Solar Warrior trailer continues to forward civil and human rights in service to the community on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) and Standing Rock reservations. It fell into disrepair there for a while, but is now very healthy on the solar side. The turbines are soon to go back into service now that the rest is solid. Thanks to Sundance Power Systems for building and providing it to the purpose of serving humanity. It is still serving its purpose.
“We use her as an ambassador for solar energy wherever she goes, explaining the benefits of renewable energy, while teaching the youth how to design, install, debug, and maintain a solar array. Red Cloud Renewable is a non-profit that has a school called Red Cloud Renewable Energy Center. The goal is to instill skills among the youth on the Pine Ridge reservation (home to the Oglala Sioux Tribe), and then send them to electrician’s school where they’ll graduate with a journeyman’s electrician’s license. The Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) has only one electrician on their reservation and is in dire need of more electricians who can serve the people on the reservation.
“Veteran Service Corps (VSC) also has a mission to provide self-sufficient tiny house villages for the tribes of the Great Sioux Nation, and homeless veterans and underserved communities across the country and internationally. We have some of our members who have their own non-profits that are already building affordable housing developments where microgrids are a core component of their communities.”
“These two are current pix at the Promise Ranch, Promise, SD, on the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe (CRST) reservation. The ranch is the HQ for Veteran Service Corps (VSC), where the Solar Warrior is stored and maintained between Sun Dances, Pow Wows, and other tribal functions.
(The Promise Ranch is a regional disaster shelter and community shelter for the tribe, and being very rural, is subject to frequent power outages. The Solar Warrior is the back-up power system that keeps the shelter running.)
Sundance Power Systems is thrilled to learn that the Solar Warrior trailer is functioning in the Dakotas and helping people learn more about the power of renewable energy. We thank Ed Reed for letting us know about her current status and hope the Solar Warrior provides many more years of service and inspiration!