Oceti Sakowin Solve Fellowship


Energy Efficiency and Solar for Tribal Buildings at Standing Rock

Bringing energy efficiency and solar power to Standing Rock buildings

Team Lead

Phyllis Young

Solution Summary

There are eight districts in the Lakota community. Each one has two to five government-owned buildings that consume large amounts of electricity. North Dakota currently receives 70 percent of its electricity from coal, one of the most carbon-intensive and hence climate-warming fuels. Meanwhile, the cost of power to Standing Rock citizens is 33 percent higher than it is in Bismarck, just one hour away.

This project proposes a massive overhaul of energy infrastructure in government-controlled buildings at Standing Rock. By leveraging energy efficient technology and photovoltaics, these eight districts stand to save millions of dollars over the coming decades—and make a powerful statement about the need to shift towards renewable energy.

Market Opportunity

  • North Dakota has almost no solar energy; it is dead last among the 50 states in solar development. Standing Rock can help lead the transformation to renewable energy.

  • The funds saved from efficient energy infrastructure would be used for other reservation programs, exponentially improving the lives of community members across districts.


  • Completed energy assessments for half of the districts

  • Produced an informational video garnering 250,000 views

  • Collected 7,000 petitions signatures in a bid to encourage North and South Dakota to pass a renewable portfolio standard (RPS)

  • Finalist for the MIT Media Lab Disobedience Award

Organization Goals

  • Retrofit as many of the main municipal buildings in the eights districts as possible over the next 12 months

  • Create ongoing public education, organizing, and economic opportunity for the 10,000 people of the Standing Rock community

Existing Partnerships

  • Super Green Solutions

  • Lakota People’s Law Project

Partnership Goals

  • Grant funding and investment

  • Media exposure

  • Technology mentorship

  • Networking connections

Fellow Team

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Fort Yates, ND, USA

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Solution Team:

  • Phyllis Young Standing Rock Lakota Activist

Partner Challenges

Energy Efficiency & Solar for Standing Rock

Fellow Energy Efficiency and Solar for Tribal Buildings at Standing Rock, which brings energy efficiency and solar power to Standing Rock buildings, received a $10,000 grant from Solve in 2018 for being selected as an Indigenous Communities Fellow.

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