Solution Summary

Many Lakota homes on the Pine Ridge reservation are not connected to the reservation’s electricity grids. Of those that are, families are often burdened by expensive utility bills. To support the community and increase access to sustainable, affordable power, Thunder Valley Energy aims to install solar panels on reservation homes.

Thunder Valley builds family homes as part of its Regenerative Community Development initiative. These homes are extremely well insulated, reducing energy use and costs, and they also use passive and active solar energy. The Workforce Development Through Sustainable Construction Program trains and educates adults, 18 to 26 years old, in the skills and methods necessary for eco-friendly, sustainable home construction. The solar panels on the regenerative community homes have the potential to reduce electricity costs by 40 to 50 percent.

Thunder Valley will also develop Solar Resilience Kits (SRK) to enable scalable solar system installation. The SRKs will include training programs for installation, operations, and maintenance, and a “solar hub” for partners and materials. Once they’re fully developed, Thunder Valley Energy will refine the SRKs as they install solar systems on 21 homes in the spring of 2019. SRKs will create a replicable roadmap to help new entrepreneurs and homeowners build business and install systems.

Market Opportunity

  • Electricity on Pine Ridge is currently either too expensive or inaccessible for many families.
  • There is tremendous potential in the local energy market, where very few solar installers exist.


  • Completed first commercial installation of a 36 kilowatt system to power offices and a Workforce Development Center in April 2017
  • Recipient of 2017 Bush Prize for Community Innovation

Organization Goals

  • Have at least three fully certified NABCEP PV Installation Professionals
  • Increase the size of installation team by 50 percent
  • Install complete PV systems on at least 14 out of 21 single family homes, a new community center, and apartment building
  • Garage build-out for stockpiled materials

Existing Partnerships

  • GenPro Energy Solutions
  • Solar Mosaic
  • SunPower
  • Fronius 

Partnership Goals

  • Sustainable funding and investment
  • Media visibility and exposure
  • Technology mentorship
  • Networking opportunities 

Fellow Team

Organization Type: 



Pine Ridge, SD, USA

Project Stage: 


Working in: 

South Dakota, USA

Team Members: 



Solution Team:

  • Chance Renville Project Manager, Thunder Valley CDC, Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate

Partner Challenges

Energy-Efficient, Culturally Relevant Homes

Fellow Thunder Valley Energy, which is building energy-efficient, culturally relevant homes, received a $10,000 grant from Solve in 2018 for being selected as an Oceti Sakowin Solve Fellow.

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